An inspiring mission, with one inspiring cause... to get less fortunate people out of pain. Dr. Bradley A. Briggs, D.D.S. of Briggs Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Scottsdale and Arizona Foothills' "Best Dentist in the Valley" has recently traveled to Nicaragua to offer dental care to remote cities with limited quality equipment, and quality dentists. Arizona Foothills had the pleasure to interview Dr. Briggs and get the inside scoop on his moving trip to Central America.
When did you travel to Nicaragua and how many people joined you?
"I went to Nicaragua June 17-28 with four friends that were in my dental school class: Dr. Jeff Stonebraker, Dr. Andy Toms, Dr. Dean Brewer and Dr. Amanda Brewer. My sister Serina Briggs, who is a dental hygienist, went as well. Also my brother Stephen Briggs and his girlfriend Lorrie Hatfield, Tawny Perkins, and Jamie Smith Van Laar went as a support team (i.e. sterilization, set up break down surgical setups, patient management, etc.)"
How many times have you been to Nicaragua? Why did you choose Nicaragua?
"I went to Nicaragua 10 years ago with Loma Linda School of Dentistry and the same four classmates, so this was kind of a reunion trip. This time the dental school was in Nicaragua weeks before us. They left us supplies in cases at a school, so all we had to do was find a town who needed us, along with transportation, and the equipment would be ready for us. This made the trip much easier, as we didn’t have to transport enough equipment for five dentists to work for an entire week. We flew in with handheld x-ray equipment and disposable supplies.
What was the trip’s main goal?
I have been on many mission trips to various countries and the mission is always the same... to get people out of pain. Access to quality dental care in urban and especially remote areas is limited.
Last year I worked in Romania in gypsy villages and was horrified to find that they pulled teeth with no anesthetic and often waiting for them to become infected enough to pull with pliers. When we set up in a local community, people will often line up all day to have us see them, waiting 6-8 hours patiently. When we were there 10 years ago, we were surprised to hear that a lady had walked a full day with two children to have us get her child out of pain. The stories we hear and see are amazing.
On this trip, I did mainly surgery, as there were so many people who needed tooth extractions and infections removed. It kept me busy. We had full set-ups with drills and x-rays so other team members were able to do fillings and even a few root canals.
It can be life changing for a 14-year-old-girl to lose a front tooth due to decay. Dr. Brewer took root canal equipment and was able to save a few front teeth for teenage girls."