TDC News September 2011
When It Rains, It Pours
Liberia has only two seasons: dry and rainy. Like many things we find in Liberia, the season's
names are as literal as they possibly could be. The birds here that show up at Christmas time
(White Egrets) are called "Christmas Birds". The trees that are used for telephone poles are
called… "telephone pole trees". No Fall, Summer, or Winter (definitely no winter!). Dry and
Rainy. Right now, we are about to come out of the rainy season, which has no official dates, but
the best we can put together after being here for six years is about mid-April to mid-October.
One thing common to the rainy season (obviously apart from the rain that makes Monrovia the
wettest capital city on earth) is poor health. More rain means less work for people. Less work
means less money, which means less food. Combine less food with cooler temperatures and poor
living conditions including leaky roofs and you've got a lot of sick people.
It is only a theory, but dental infections during rainy season seem to become more serious
more quickly. For months, all seemed a bit calmer in the dental world and we felt as if we
were making a huge impact in the dental health of the nation until…the 'rainy season theory'
seemed to be verified. Severe swellings and infectious cases began to walk through the door at
a rate that seemed unmanageable at times. In just a few weeks, more patients presented with
dental infections that damaged large portions of their jaw (osteomyelitis) than had presented
in the previous three months combined.
At the end of the month, Dr. Keith will have the opportunity to travel to Leicester, England to
give a report to the Christian Dental Fellowship. He'll be giving an update on the clinic, its
progress and future, and will be able to catch up with several old friends who have volunteered
with us in the past or with whom we worked in the Mercy Ships' dental clinic. Hopefully we will
also raise a lot of interest for more dentists to come to Liberia and serve with us!
Here are some encouragements we received by e-mail and Facebook about Trinity Dental Clinic:
From an American teacher working in Liberia . One of her students was a young lady who
suffered some trauma and lost one of her front teeth and chipped another:
"I cannot tell you how many times in the past 48 [hours] I have thanked God for you and the
fact that you chose to practice here in Liberia! I am terribly upset that this student sustained this
injury on Thursday!!!! I cannot even tell you. She is a beautiful girl and just the night before the
field trip [my husband] commented on her beautiful smile as I was showing him some pics of the
kids. As you may know Sarah lives with her uncle and has not seen her parents who live in
Buchanan for over 4 years. This makes me especially concerned about her emotional well being.
I know she misses them so much. I am just so happy that you were in town and were able to
address the issue so promptly. I am so happy that there is an option here for this young girl to
have a replacement tooth made."
From a young man who was in a terrible car accident and broke his lower jaw in two different
"THIS IS THE PLACE THAT GOD SAVED MY LIFE!!!! IT IS WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE
TO GET TREATMENT HERE....DOING A GREAT JOB- HEALING AND TRANSFORMING
LIVES BY THE SPECIAL GRACE OF GOD"
Thanks as always for everyone's prayers and support.
One particular form of this condition in
the front of the lower jaw has been very
prevalent this rainy season. The
gentleman shown here is one example.
The image on the right was only one
week after his surgery. Although
osteomyelitis is well known in the
medical field, this particular presentation
in the mouth is highly undocumented.
Trinity Dental has aided in a study, still in process, with a Norweigan Oral Surgeon, Shelley
Godtfredsen, Mercy Ships, and Harvard Medical School, analyzing a similar form of this
disease more common in the back of the jaw; and now we have begun to collect data and
samples for new research to try and discover what factors might be behind this presentation of
the disease in the front of the jaw. Patients often lose half or even all of their lower teeth from
an infection stemming from only one tooth.