Saving Grace of Dentistry

4 December 2008



 Where am I going?


Project Grace is a Christian NGO that has been involved in poverty-alleviation work in the Yunnan province of China since 1994. PG's work focuses on health and disability and rural community development. They run Village Service Programmes (VSP) programmes annually (dental and medical).

I will be spending 2 weeks in China. The first week will be spent observing and assisting the dentists in Hua Xia Dental Clinic. This clinic is run by PG and is located in Kunming city, the capital of Yunnan province in South-western China. Also, arrangements have been made to visit Kunming Medical Collegeƕs Dental School, to observe the training and teaching of dental students.

In the second week, I will follow my elective supervisor and join a team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) to travel to another county town in Yunnan - Xi Shuang Ban Na, which is located South of Kunming. The plan is to visit 3 villages for field dentistry.


So why go to China?


At the end of BDent 1 (Dec 2006), I was given the opportunity to travel to Dali (another county town in Yunnan) for a dental mission with other students from NUS. The purpose of the trip was to teach in a VSP programme (dental) and also to travel to a village for field dentistry. It was an eye opener, and I returned home refreshed and with a greater understanding of how I can use my profession to help others. Hence, with the flexibility of choice of elective placements, I have elected to spend a portion of my time back in China to continue learning and serving the needs of a rural population.


The aims and objectives of this elective


The aim of this elective is to experience rural dentistry in China and compare dental awareness among the population in China vs. Australia

There are 2 main objectives in this elective. The first is to experience rural dentistry in china by spending time in Hua Xia dental clinic, observing and assisting the dentist on duty, and identifying equipment/materials available and how it impacts on dental treatment options. The rural experience will also be enhanced by travelling to villages for field dentistry.

The second objective is to compare dental awareness among the population in China vs. Australia. This will be achieved by the following:

  • Examining fluoride levels in china's public water system (if any) or natural sources of fluoride (e.g. naturally occurring in water, and from burning coals); and its impact on caries risk; contrasting with Australia's national water fluoridation system

  • Comparing the dental public health system of China (if there is one?) against the NSW Australian system. E.g., enquiring about the cost of visiting a dentist for a regular check-up, for scaling and cleaning, or for restorative work etc.

  • Observing the training of dental students, the methods of teaching and learning, and comparing that with how we are taught at USyd.

  • Exploring the emphasis (if any) on preventative care vs. 'last resort' e.g. Exo

  • Investigating whether there are any dental public education schemes / methods of promotion of oral health


The adventure begins Dec 9th, 2008


I am excited about this trip and look forward to the challenges that lie ahead. I know this will be a life changing experience that will only serve to reinforce my belief that the true meaning of entering a health profession is to help those in need. Hopefully my experience will encourage others to open their hearts to serve the needs of a rural population.