March 25, 2022 | Montemorelos, Nuevo Leon, Mexico | Laura Marrero and Inter-American Division News

After a delay caused by the pandemic which began two years ago, students and faculty of the school of dentistry at Montemorelos University, in Montemorelos, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, have resumed offering free dental services to the community.

The initiative, which is called Zero Cavities is part of a special program under the direction of the Health Promoting Universities (UPS) in Montemorelos, which raises dental health awareness, said Dr. Roel Cea, director of the Health Promoting University at Montemorelos. “This is also about bringing accessibility to the basic dental treatments to people who need it the most in the citrus region.”

A dental student from Montemorelos gets ready to numb a patient’s mouth to perform an free dental service as part of the “Zero Cavities” initiative to benefit low income families in the city of Montemorelos, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. [Photo: Montemorelos University]

Zero Cavities, which offers dental check-ups, cleanings, endodontist services, extractions and resin fillings, is organized by the Health Promoting University leadership in collaboration with the School of Dental Medicine, Luz and Life Dental Clinic and the La Carlota Adventist Hospital’s Lloyd Baum Dental Center, in conjunction with Nuevo Leon’s Health Secretary and municipal governments of Montemorelos, Allende and General Terán.

The initiative offers free dental services once a month.

Sixteen to twenty students on their third to tenth semester of dental school perform the services under the supervision of professionals in the area, said Dr. Alma Calderón, coordinator of the dental surgery program at Montemorelos.

“The fact that students get involved in this type of [dental brigade] initiative helps them be sensitive to people, helps them acquire more manual development, and helps them connect with their career choice and the community,” said Calderón. “They feel useful to society and satisfied by applying their knowledge to help others.”

A dental student performs a dental check up on a child during the latest health brigade in Montemorelos in February. The Zero Cavities initiative will be held every month throughout the three municipalites of Allende, General Terán and Montemorelos. [Photo: Montemorelos University]

Zero Cavities began a second phase in 2019 after collaboration agreements were signed with new administrations of the Allende, General Terán and Montemorelos,” said Cea. “Back then the focus was mostly exclusively for primary school, but today those agreements have extended to the entire community,” he explained.

Even though in-person dentistry was paused during the pandemic, the initiative still provided virtual health talks, forums and Q&As to the community of online viewers. Professionals from the university, the North Mexican Union and Advent Health, among others, were featured on the virtual programs.

So far this year, the most recent intervention of Zero Cavities was held last month in the three municipal districts, including a full week of free dental services to low-income families, in an effort to create healthier municipal districts, organizers said.

Dr. Arturo King, deputy director of the Health Promoting University at Montemorelos, said the initiative brings a lot of joy because it’s all about benefiting the community. “We are glad to put our grain of sand so that the people in Montemorelos can become a healthier community,” King said.

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