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SALZBURG, Austria: Dentsply Sirona has provided extensive equipment for dental therapy for the indigenous Xingu peoples in the Amazon region of Brazil. A team from Doutores Sem Fronteiras (DSF) [doctors without borders] travelled to the region of Mato Grosso in mid-May, when the Jogos do Xingu were being held. These traditional games are the largest official sporting event in the region, and this year, they attracted 600 athletes and more than 3,000 visitors from 15 indigenous villages.
Bringing dental care to remote regions of the Amazon
Word about this undertaking by the Brazilian DSF had spread. At the invitation of the organizers of the Xingu games, a DSF team of seven dentists travelled to the area to provide dental care to the residents of several Kuikuru villages. Dentsply Sirona supported the dentists by providing CEREC units and modern dental instruments and materials, among other things.
Hundreds of athletes from 15 indigenous groups travelled to compete in 15 disciplines in the Xingu games. As a result of heavy rain, these took place somewhat later than planned. However, this in no way dampened the motivation of the participants, and the dental therapy offered this year proved to be a positive experience for the patients.
The weather was also problematic for the DSF crew, and the substantial rainfall made it impossible to reach the region by car. Furthermore, the ferry was not running reliably, which meant that the therapy team and all the dental equipment had to be transported into the jungle on small boats, a trip which took 4 hours. The local people helped to carry the high-tech devices the last few yards to where they were to be set up. In this way, a total of five “mobile clinics”—consisting of improvised treatment chairs and compressors—found their way to the people.
Modern technology and high-quality materials
Many men, women and children received dental treatment before the games. The indigenous people were able to see, perhaps for the first time, intraoral scanners and milling machines and were amazed to receive dental prostheses in no time at all. In addition, modern instruments and materials were used to gently perform root canal therapy and treat carious lesions. The care was undertaken in challenging climatic conditions and with electricity supplied by generators.
In Brazil, dental care is by no means a given for indigenous people, such as the Xingu peoples. For most of them, the nearest dentist is too far away, or they cannot afford to pay for therapy. Naturally, they gratefully accepted the offer of free dental care.
The trip to this region was a matter dear to the heart of Dr. José Umberto De Luca, the very first CEREC user in Brazil. De Luca, a dentist from Rio de Janeiro, is well aware of the possibilities of modern technology that can restore oral health and give patients a beautiful smile. “This is my third expedition of this kind and I am overwhelmed once again,” he said after the expedition. “During this event, we were able to offer CEREC to everyone, in the middle of the jungle. A robust system, which defies unusual external circumstances, and a motivated team […] All of this made the expedition a special experience for me.” It was immediately agreed that DSF would come again next year.
Continuous support—CEREC for everyone
Through its ongoing commitment in the Amazon, Dentsply Sirona reinforces its willingness to make a sustained contribution to improving the oral health and quality of life of indigenous peoples. Another project has already been completed. In July, Dentsply Sirona supported, for the seventh time in a row, a project initiated by Dr. Caio Eduardo Machado, the founder of DSF. Journeying through the Amazon, Machado offered dental therapy to the indigenous peoples of Vale do Guaporé and of the Terras Indígenas [indigenous territories] Sete de Setembro, Igarapé Lourdes, Povos Arara and Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau.