Many people in developing countries have never had the privilege of seeing a dentist. Dental help is almost non-existent in much of Africa, and, in the countries Mercy Ships visits it is unaffordable for the majority of the population. Since 1978, Mercy Ships has provided over 109,000 dental treatments to more than 278,000 patients.
Each day hundreds of people in oral pain queue to wait for the arrival of the Mercy Ships dentists, hygienists, instrument sterilisers and an oral health educator. The team works long hours in a shore-based temporary dental clinic, often located in a local school. Many children have never had their teeth treated before, and the dental health issues in the entire population are often extensive.