A dental quest among the many Lakota


A little bit-known however admirable outreach program for dentists, hygienists and dental college students is the St. Francis Mission Amongst The Lakota Dental Clinic in South Dakota. Located simply contained in the western border of the Rosebud Indian Reservation, the clinic presents free dental care to the Lakota folks. For 9 years, the clinic has been serving these in excessive want of dental care.

After I began dental faculty on the College at Buffalo, my father and I made a pact that we’d do an outreach journey collectively if we acquired the chance. My father, Dr. Michael Romano, is a normal dentist in Liverpool, New York, and a 1985 graduate of UBSDM. Towards the top of my third yr, my father learn an article in regards to the dental clinic at Rosebud Indian Reservation within the American Dental Affiliation month-to-month newspaper. It appeared like the proper alternative for the reason that clinic is run solely by volunteer dentists throughout the nation.

I introduced the data to my faculty administration. They embraced the chance to ship a bunch of fourth-year college students and granted us monetary help. At first of my fourth yr, eight college students, my father and Dr. Gambacorta from UB Dental faculty traveled to St. Francis Mission for a week-long journey.

View of the skin of the St. Francis Mission dental clinic.

The Lakota folks have been welcoming and grateful to have us. We labored within the clinic alongside a dental hygienist and assistant who have been native to the realm and knew the group effectively. We noticed sufferers of all ages with varied advanced dental wants. Since we have been there for less than every week, we needed to establish what was most crucial for every affected person and deal with them as effectively as doable.

This journey gave me a brand new appreciation for what I can do as a normal dentist. It was important to take a big-picture method to advanced instances and on the identical appointment deal with these wants. We carried out extractions, restorations, pulpotomies and even biopsied one affected person with a suspicious lesion. This outreach journey emphasised the privilege I’ve as a dentist to considerably affect a group’s healthcare.

Dawn stroll via the neighborhood alongside the cemetery. Pictured is Dr. Michael Romano.

Not solely did the Lakota folks graciously settle for our dental care, in addition they welcomed us into their properties and areas. Our first evening there we attended an out of doors pow wow the place Native People from all around the nation in full native costume gathered and took part in conventional dances and ceremonies. Later within the week, we joined a sweat lodge ceremony on the residence of one of many staff on the clinic. Inside the new, darkened domed lodge, we sat shut collectively in a circle, listened to singing and prayer, and linked with ancestors. It was a shifting expertise. I felt honored to have been welcomed into that sacred house.

Art work discovered within the St. Francis Mission dental clinic.

We additionally toured a museum subsequent to the dental clinic stuffed with genuine Lakota artwork and historic artifacts. The information taught us in regards to the historical past of the Lakota folks and the encompassing Native American tribes that used to occupy the lands. It was eye-opening to listen to tales that occurred proper on my residence soil that I had by no means discovered about in my years of schooling. I shall be endlessly grateful to the Lakota folks for welcoming us into their group and sharing their tales.

I’m additionally grateful for everybody who was on this journey with me: my classmates, Dr. Gambacorta and particularly my dad. I’m privileged to have a father who’s a dentist. Having this skilled and private expertise with my father, studying from him and offering care to this group collectively was a bonding second. I used to be reminded why I selected a profession path in dentistry within the first place.

~ Abigail Romano, Buffalo ‘23

Featured picture: The College of Buffalo dental crew outdoors St. Francis Mission Dental Clinic. Pictured from left to proper: Dr. Gambacorta, Dr. Romano, Abigail Romano, Taryn Extra, Marty Jones of St. Francis Mission, Drew Hanna, Elisabeth Estep, Brooke Thornhill, Olivia Marziale, Pallavi Mathur and Mike Casab.

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