The shortage of Dentists in Haiti has been a troubling situation for years as dental health contributes to a human’s overall wellness. Haiti’s population of 10 million is greatly undeserved by only 300 Dentists and 52% of those dentists practice around the country’s capital of Port-au-Prince.
Leading the Bless Back Dental Mission
Since 2011, Dr. Chris Kibler has been dedicated to addressing the dental care shortage in Haiti. He serves through Spaugh Dameron Tenny’s local partner, Bless Back Worldwide.
Dr. Kibler has been in practice for thirty years and began his career as an Associate Dentist in Hickory, NC. After gaining four years of experience as an Associate Dentist, Dr. Kibler started his own dental practice and then later bought a dental practice in Uptown Charlotte. Today he practices in the Cotswold area providing general, aesthetic, and restorative dental care.
Initially, the Charlotte Dentist was recruited by close friends to join a Bless Back Worldwide team that was traveling to Haiti. In October of 2011, part of the Bless Back team’s task was to visit and test out a location to decide if it was a good fit for Bless Back Worldwide to lay down their roots and begin providing permanent relief. Grand-Goâve was the location the Bless Backers were exploring and they must have been satisfied, as Bless Back has been sending teams to Mission of Hope International, in Grand-Goâve ever since. Fourteen months after his first trip, Dr. Kibler travel to Haiti with Bless Back in January of 2013.
Established in 2000, Mission of Hope International, serves the Grand-Goâve and surrounding area though leadership and pastoral training events, two privately funded schools for 800+ children, daily medical and dental clinics.
People in developing countries are burdened excessively by oral diseases. These are aggravated by poverty, poor living conditions and lack of education related to dental care. Bless Back teams provide extractions, restorations, sealants and fluoride treatments- all of which are carried on full-time by the local dental provider. Dr. Kibler says, “together we aim to save teeth by providing preventative care and oral hygiene education to the community.”
The Importance of Oral Health Education
Three years ago, Dr. Kibler initiated the implementation of a fluoride swish program at the school in Grand-Goâve to provide oral health education and care to the K-12 students.
When asked about dental issues they see in Haitian patients compared to United States patients, Dr. Kibler noted that the main problems are similar. They often see dental carriers (decay) and parental disease (gum disease) and the difference is the severity of the decay and gum disease, due to lack of treatment or oral health knowledge. The Charlotte Dentist says the patients who come to the clinic love to have their teeth cleaned. He has even had a few patients admit they made false claims of a tooth ache, just to make sure they got their cleaned.
Dr. Kibler says the Haitian people walk everywhere and don’t have access to candy or other sweets, therefore the patients he sees in Grand-Goâve are not usually overweight. Moreover, he mentioned the people of Haiti have one vice- sugarcane. The Haitians will chew on the raw sugar cane for hours at a time, resulting in more decay on the side of the mouth the Haitians use to chew their sugar cane.
Annual Dental Mission
This month, Dr. Kibler will embark on his 6th Bless Back trip to Grand-Goâve, Haiti. Education is extremely important for each Bless Back trip, which offers the opportunity to mentor the local Haitian medical practitioners. Dr. Kibler is looking forward to working with Dr. Mayriame Guichard for the first time. Dr. Guichard is one of Mission of Hope International’s newest assets, serving as the full time Dentist at the dental clinic. The 24 year old Dentist graduated from the University of Haiti Faculty of Dentistry and is building her practice of patients.
Mission of Hope International has an organized operation with dental chairs, a wide variety or surgical and dental tools, high and low speed hand drill, an autoclave, and more. These dental care items have been donated over the years by Bless Back Worldwide and other organizations that travel to serve at Mission of Hope throughout the year.
Apply for a Bless Back Trip through our GOtoGROW Scholarship
ABOUT THE AUTHOR