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News Europe

At a previous Quality of Life for Our Parents charity event, several volunteers gathered to treat people free of charge. (Photo courtesy of Quality of Life for Our Parents)
May 25, 2012 | News Europe

Volunteer dentists place 400 implants in one day

by Yvonne Bachmann, DTI

KIEV, Ukraine: While dental care is taken for granted in most Western European countries, many people in Eastern Europe are not even aware of what is possible in dentistry these days. The Ukrainian Quality of Life for Our Parents project aims to offer free implant treatment to the elderly. Today, several volunteer dental professionals are gathering in Kiev, Ukraine, to perform surgery on 100 patients in the city’s hospitals of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine.

The organisers plan to place 400 implants and insert temporary dentures on the same day. “With the assistance of 25 anaesthesiology teams, we will simultaneously be operating in 30 surgical rooms and 30 prosthodontists’ rooms,” they announced.

The project was introduced in 2010 by Prof. Yaroslav Zablotskyy, President of the Ukrainian Dental Implantologists’ Association. “Having realised that our society, both the general public and government, had never heard that dental implants were invented to treat edentulous patients, we initiated the professional project,” he stated together with Dr Myron Uhryn, President of the Ukrainian Association of Dentists in Private Practice, in an open letter to professional dental associations.

Nearly 350 socially unprotected elderly people over the age of 80 were treated between April 2010 and October 2011, with about 1,500 implants placed by 400 volunteer dentists from all over Ukraine through 13 charity events, ten of which were held in Ukraine and three in countries following Ukraine’s lead. The treatment was carried out at private dental clinics with fixed dentures, also free of charge. “The oldest patient was 93 years old,” Zablotskyy stated.

During recent treatments, the dental professionals noticed how low public awareness of implants really is. Over 100 people cancelled after finding out that implant placement entailed surgery and others cancelled after they had realised that the procedure would mean a stay in hospital. “The main conclusion is that people don’t know much about dental implantation. Therefore, all of the elderly patients who agreed to free implantation did not know what they had agreed to and those who refused did not know what they had refused,” Zablotskyy told Dental Tribune ONLINE.

The project organisers use radio, television and print advertisements to inform the public about the opportunity to undergo free implant treatment. Those wishing to receive treatment can apply via a 24-hour phone line. “The initial selection considers both age, 65 and older, and clinical criteria, such as an edentulous mandible. After that, the candidates undergo examination by the physicians, cardiologists and anaesthesiologists, who approve them for the one-hour surgery,” Zablotskyy explained.

The participating medical professionals generally pay for their own travel and accommodation. They also supply physio-dispensers and all the necessary implant and prosthetic instruments, as well as consumables. During the charity events, surgeons, prosthodontists, nurses and hospital staff work as one team. The organisers work in collaboration with several dental manufacturers, such as Straumann, Nobel Biocare, Alpha-Bio Tec, U-impl and AB Dental, which provide free implants.

The majority of patients treated so far have been satisfied with the results and even recommended it to their friends, Zablotskyy told Dental Tribune ONLINE. Still it is questionable whether the project has helped to increase general awareness about dental treatment possibilities. Information about the charity events and about dental implantation is distributed through various media. However, it is too early to determine whether awareness among Ukrainians is sufficient, according to Zablotskyy.

The project, which originated in Ukraine, has meanwhile crossed the borders and attracted other dental professionals, who now hold charity events for free dental implantation for the elderly in their countries. Events have been held in Poland, Russia and Georgia. Additionally, countries such as Germany, Kazakhstan and Turkey have shown interest in organising such projects.

By declaring 25 May 2012 World Day of Free Dental Implantation, the organisers of Quality of Life for Our Parents seek to encourage dentists around the world to participate at their local practices. “While staying in their own country and city, in their own clinic, all doctors can participate and offer free implantation to their countrymen,” Zablotskyy said.

People who are generally interested in this project can, of course, participate at an event. The next events will take place in Batumi, Georgia, and in Kazakhstan. However, interested foreign dentists should be aware that certain requirements must be met in order for them to treat patients. For example, foreign dentists who wish to perform surgery at the Ukrainian events are required to supply letters of recommendation from their implantology association, as well as copies of their qualification documents. According to Ukrainian law, foreigners are not permitted to practise medicine within the territory of Ukraine, so the committee that organises the events petitiones for special permission for foreign dentists to operate at an event. However, all foreign dentists are welcome to participate as observers.

People who would like to hear about the volunteer dentists’ experiences, would like to visit and observe a project in action, or wish to start a similar project in their country are welcome to contact the organisers at secretariat@aiukraine.com.ua.

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