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Where There Is No Dentist – Angola Day 4


This seven-year old boy arrived today at CEML Hospital from a rural village. Two weeks ago, his illness began with a toothache in the left upper mouth. Five days ago, puss began draining through the skin. This very disturbing photo, taken with permission, shows a black hole at the center of the left cheek. That black hole is the site of a dental abscess that eroded it into the overlying cheek bone and maxillary sinus. The crater surrounding the hole is what little remains of his necrotic cheek skin. The infection also extends into the boy’s left eye.


What we witnessed here is a natural consequence of absent dental care. Very few people in Angola have knowledge or resources for basic dental hygiene (brushing and flossing), and dental professionals, who have capacity to provide early management of dental decay, are rare indeed. Tonight, our first priority is to treat this boy’s sepsis and preserve his life. Simultaneously, I continue to remind all our colleagues: Dental care is not simply cosmetic. Dental care is essential to life.


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