After a delay caused by the pandemic, which began in 2020, students and faculty of the Department of Dental Technology at Montemorelos University in Montemorelos, Nuevo León, Mexico, have resumed offering free dental services to the community.
The initiative, called Zero Cavities, is part of a special program under the coordination of the Health Promoting Universities (HPU) in Montemorelos. It seeks to raise dental health awareness, says Roel Cea, HPU director at Montemorelos. “It is also about providing access to basic dental treatments to people who need them the most in the area surrounding our campus.”
Zero Cavities offers dental checkups, cleanings, endodontist services, extractions, and resin fillings. The initiative is a partnership between HPU and the Department of Dental Technology, Luz and Life Dental Clinic, and La Carlota Adventist Hospital’s Lloyd Baum Dental Center. Nuevo León’s Health Secretary and municipal governments of Montemorelos, Allende, and General Terán are also involved.
Leaders said that the idea is to offer free dental services once a month. Sixteen to 20 students on their third to tenth semester of dental school perform the services under the supervision of professionals in the area, Alma Calderón, coordinator of the dental surgery program at Montemorelos, said.
“The fact that students get involved in this kind of initiative helps them to be sensitive to people, acquire manual dexterity, and connect with their career choice and the community,” Calderón said. “They feel useful to society and excited about applying what they know to help others.”
On the other hand, Cea explained that Zero Cavities began a second phase in 2019 after collaboration agreements were signed with new administrations of Allende, General Terán, and Montemorelos. “Back then, the focus was mostly exclusively for primary school, but today those agreements have extended to the entire community,” Cea said.
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 AdventHealth, 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.
Arturo King, HPU deputy director at Montemorelos, said the initiative brings a lot of joy because it’s all about benefiting the community. “We are glad to put in our grain of sand so that the people in Montemorelos can become a healthier community,” King said.