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Elective Competition Winner 2017

By Conor McCloskey

Elective Competition Winner 2017


It didn't take long for the first patient to take a seat in front of us. I knew only a few useful words in Khmer, the language spoken in Cambodia such as "open", "close" and "pain".

I expected communication would be tricky but it was reassuring to have the Cambodian dental team to assist us in translation when we were really struggling. The majority of the patients were children and for many, this was the first time that they were getting access to dental care.

The extent of decay on many of the children's teeth was shocking and most of the treatment carried out as a result, were extractions. Due to the large number of patients waiting to be seen and the lack of sufficient resources, our main aim was to address pain and get the child out of this pain.

This meant that although we would've liked to address other issues in the child's mouth, there just wasn't the time. However, it was nice to see the children being given a toothbrush and toothpaste following each appointment.

Despite expecting a large number of extractions, I really wasn't prepared for the difficulty of these. Many of the teeth were severely broken down and it was difficult applying instruments to these. Poor lighting coupled with the humidity made this even more challenging.

At the end of each day of work, we were extremely glad to head back to our accommodation and get a much needed shower.

Finding a channel on TV that was in English was impossible so most evenings were spent playing cards and getting to know some other dental students who had come from various different countries.

One night, the cambodian dental team informed us that were going on a night out and we were taken to a karaoke bar (there are thousands of these in Asia!).

It was really fun to get to know the Cambodians better and seeing them belt out cheesy pop songs was extremely entertaining. My turn on the mic didn't make for pleasant listening but I didn't manage to lose any friends!

We all learnt a lot from our first week of dentistry in Cambodia. Seeing how necessary work like this is, was eye opening and made me appreciate what we have back in the UK a lot more.

Despite how little the children we treated had, they seemed extremely happy and were very curious about the work we were doing. Some even came up to us and asked us our names and were all too willing to pose for a photo as shown below.

They always waved when we arrived and left and all of this made my first week of dentistry extremely rewarding. I was feeling excited to see what the second week held for us.

Watch out for more updates from Conor on his elective adventures!

Are you going on an elective?  Head off on your travels safe in the knowledge that we've got you covered for problems such as cancellations for exam re-sit cancellations, HIV needle-stick injuries or unforeseen medical expenses with elective insurance from Wesleyan.

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