The Augsburg-based Huiss Dental Laboratory has acquired the golden edition of the Vinyl High Resolution at exocad Insights. “Dentists Without Limits” is the recipient of the entire auction proceeds. While handing over the scanner, we took some time to talk to Dr. Stefan Rohr, the president of Dentists Without Limits, to learn more about his organization. Here is the full length interview:
smart optics: Dr. Rohr, thank you very much for coming to Augsburg today for the handover of the scanner! At the exocad Insights event, the Huiss Dental Laboratory had placed the highest bid and thus won the golden edition of the Vinyl High Resolution including the exocad DentalCAD. The smart optics team is proud to present you with the check for the total auction proceeds of EUR 13,000. Please tell our readers a little bit more about Dentists Without Limits.
Dr. Rohr: First of all many thanks for this generous donation, for which we are very grateful! Dentist Without Limits is a recognized charitable and benevolent relief organization. Dentists Without Limits enters into agreements with the governments of the host countries and at the same time provides equipment, instruments and materials so that volunteers, dentists, dental assistants and dental technicians can work legally and within a development partnership in underprivileged countries. Explanation: the term legal means “with work permit and work visa”. A development partnership means that we work in cooperation with government agencies and local medical staff. For example, recently students of the Dental Faculty of the University of Namibia have been accompanying us on our missions. We work in mixed European-African teams, which is very exciting.
smart optics: Does this mean that it is not merely an aid mission, but also a kind of educational and training mission?
Dr. Rohr: We try to cover three areas. The first area is dental treatment in remote parts of the country, which are cut off from any form of infrastructure. The people who live there do not have access to dental care. We have a mobile dental clinic with which we can reach such areas. We bring everything with us, we even generate our own power. Putting it rather bluntly, the only thing we need is a tree that gives us shade. The second area is the attempt to establish prophylaxis in the countries. For this we go to kindergartens and schools, examine the children regularly and distribute thousands of toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste. And we show the children how to use them. In cooperation with government authorities such as the Ministry of Education, we have succeeded in Namibia, for example, to have brushing teeth included in the school curriculum of “Life skills”. And this is how it works: at all-day schools, where the children are given lunch, everyone goes to brush their teeth together after eating. The teachers have been trained and explain to the children how to brush their teeth. Toothbrushes, toothpaste and tumblers are kept in the school for every child.
The third area of our project covers further training and education of the local staff. We explained step by step to the Namibian dentists and dental technicians how to fabricate partial dentures. We try to address these three main topics in every country.
smart optics: You have just spoken specifically about Namibia, in which other countries are you active?
Dr. Rohr: We are currently focusing on five countries: Mongolia, Zambia, Namibia, Togo and Cape Verde. I am responsible for Namibia and the projects we run there. I have already been there sixteen times and know my way around there quite well by now. That is why I like talking about Namibia.
smart optics: What will the donations you receive be used for specifically?
Dr. Rohr: We spread the donations over the three areas I have just mentioned. For example, when we travel to remote parts of the country, we transport our units for thousands of kilometers on gravel roads. Both the vibrations during the journey and the dust that penetrates into every crack make life difficult for the equipment. We therefore use part of the donations for the permanent maintenance and refurbishment of our mobile dental clinic. For prophylaxis alone we need tens of thousands of toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste every year. And these are also financed through donations. For example, we also brought 8,000 plastic teeth to Namibia for the workshop and 10 kilos of cold-curing resin, so that at the end of the workshop we could give each dental technician a package consisting of 100 sets of teeth, bracket wire, cold-curing resin, forceps and wax knives as well as everything they needed to enable them to start work immediately the next day. That too, was only possible with donations.
smart optics: What professional groups make up Dentists Without Limits and what do interested persons have to do to become part of one of the teams?
Dr. Rohr: In principle, there are three occupational groups: dentists with at least two years’ professional experience, dental assistants and dental technicians, both with completed professional training. If you would like to participate, you can either call Dentists Without Limits or send an e-mail and briefly explain that you would like to participate in a mission. You apply for a membership card from Dentists Without Limits and will be sent a number of documents that you need to fill out. You also need a certificate of conduct from the police. Dentists must have a certificate of good standing issued by their respective state dental association. This certificate confirms that no professional proceedings are pending against you. Once you have your membership card, you can participate in a mission. The countries and dates of deployment are posted live on our website. There you simply register with one of the groups that suits your time schedule and off you go. It is important to know that the participants involved in the mission work on a voluntary basis, i.e. free of charge. The participants must pay for their own flights, accommodation and the rental car they hire locally. This therefore requires considerable commitment on the part of the participants to take part in such a mission. But there again, each participant experiences so many unique and beautiful things, so that everyone brings home more than they have given.
smart optics: Dr Rohr, thank you very much for giving us insights on your work, we wish “Dentists Without Limits” continued success in the future!