At the sight of one of the young women walking through the door of the health center, the dentistry team could immediately sense something was terribly wrong. Her jaw was very swollen, and her body looked frail. An older woman was right behind her and explained that she would translate between the young woman and the YWAM volunteers.
The dentist sat her down, looked in her mouth, and saw the massive swelling around her lower jaw; showing abscesses on both the left and right side. Just by looking at her face, the team could see inflammation around her jaw. Through her translator, they discovered that she had been in tremendous pain for the past few months with nowhere go to for help. The pain had become severe enough that she could not bear to eat anymore – which was evident by her tiny and delicate frame.
The dentist drained the abscess on one side and continued to remove the rotten tooth. She knew it would be painful, but it had to be done. The infection was so bad that, along with pus, this woman lost a lot of blood and continued to bleed for quite some time. It was one of the worst conditions the team had seen, and they were very concerned for her.
She wouldn’t have been able to cope with the other side of her jaw being drained and tooth excavated that same day, so she was given antibiotics and strongly encouraged to come back the next week to have the procedure finished. She lived a fair way up the river and had to return home by canoe. It is never guaranteed that a patient is able to come back, even if they are willing; so the team hoped and prayed they would see her again.
Thankfully, on the last day of clinics the following week, the woman returned. There was an incredible difference, even in her demeanor; she was smiling and looked much happier. It was exciting that she and her translator were able to return. She had started eating again and said she was feeling much better.
The team took a look in her mouth and could not believe the healing that had taken place in her gum around the tooth that had been taken out – there was no red swelling or pus. It looked totally healthy! The dentist removed the rotten tooth from the other side of her jaw, and there was considerably less bleeding and infection than the week earlier.
The woman was very relieved at the outcome of this visit; she had never known pain like what she had experienced when she came to see the dentist on board. The team was grateful that they were able to cross the path of this woman, who had no access to anyone that could end her suffering from incredible infection and tooth decay, and offer her the help that she needed.