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Health Center Today, March 29, 2010

UConn Dental Students Provide Much Needed Dental Care to Residents of Tobati, Paraguay

By Carolyn Pennington

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Students from the School of Dental Medicine accompanied students from Kingswood-Oxford school in West Hartford on a recent trip to Tobati, Paraguay. This is the fifth year UConn dental students have taken part in the Team Tobati project, providing much-needed dental care for local residents.

Twelve students and four faculty preceptors work with Paraguayan community dentists and dental students while the Kingswood-Oxford School students act as translators.

"This is an ideal service project for our UConn students," says Dr. Michael Goupil, associate dean for students. "They assist the dental community of Tobati to help care for their own people. The UConn students and faculty divide into two teams. Each team sets up clinics at two different school locations each day resulting in patients being seen at many different sites."

Goupil estimates they treated approximately 450 to 500 patients, the majority of them being children. "This translates to 10 patients per day per student working under very primitive conditions," explains Goupil. "The majority of the care continues to be extractions." The students pulled approximately 1,000 teeth, but in addition, this year they applied 300 fluoride treatments and a significant number of nontraumatic restorative treatments.

"I was very impressed with all of the students and their positive attitudes. Everyone worked extremely hard," adds Goupil. "I continue to believe this is an exceptional educational opportunity as well as a worthwhile community service project."