The Mercy Ships Dental team provide dental services aiming to reduce the incidence of dental disease by providing dental education and treatments such as restorations, extractions, and cleaning. They do this by: providing dental care for people with little or no access to dental services, including procedures for tooth decay, infections of the mouth, and small oral lesions; providing clinical dental hygiene services; providing dentures to patients requiring replacement; educate patients on basic oral health education; and train capable day workers in various aspects of assisting, sterilizing, and teaching oral hygiene.
Patients are identified and scheduled during a biweekly screening process. Priority is given to emergency cases and children. Appointments are typically scheduled within two-to-three days of the initial screening, based on staffing levels at the time. All services are offered free of charge.
Mercy Ships will work with host countries to identify and retain a secure, functional facility off of the ship, to serve as the dental clinic. Such a location must have a variety of logistical elements, such as accessibility for patients, relative close proximity to the port, and running water. Once the field service ends, the clinic is returned to the host country cleaned, operable, and ready for use, helping strengthen local infrastructure and opportunities.
Mercy Ships will, where possible, work alongside local dentists. In doing so, Mercy Ships will facilitate an exchange of understanding and expertise between dentists of different cultures who are working within the same discipline.
Mercy Ships hires local day workers to serve alongside the dental team, assisting in many of the administrative positions and other aspects of the dental clinic. Some of these workers that demonstrate interest and capacity will be trained in clinical areas, including universal precautions, sterilization techniques, and use of basic instruments. All day workers learn skills and technical competencies.