Andros is the largest island of the Bahamas and the fifth-largest island in the Caribbean; however, there is currently no residing dentist – no dental home. Now in its fourth year, the University of Florida College of Dentistry Bahamas Mission Trip team continues to provide, through their service, a much-needed dental home for the children of Andros.
The Bahamas Mission Trip began in 2012 as the University of Florida College of Dentistry looked to expand its global impact. Dr. Ericka Bennett, an endodontic resident at that time, recognized a need in her native Bahamas. She was joined by Dr. Abi Adewumi, a pediatric dentistry faculty member and longtime supporter of dental mission trips, to help start this pediatric-focused program at the University of Florida. A group of dental students and student leaders are selected each year to organize the trip that is led under the direction of Dr. Abi Adewumi. The FCD Bahamas Mission Trip provides free dental care in clinics set up in public classrooms and assembles stations for extractions, restorative procedures, oral hygiene education and prophylaxis. This trip is unique in that it is the only international trip offered by the University of Florida that focuses solely on pediatric care.
During UFCD’s Spring Break in March 2017, a group of 14 dental students and seven volunteer dentists and dental specialists traveled to Andros where they treated 588 children, about 80 percent of all children living on the island. The care provided included prophylaxis, oral hygiene education, fluoride varnish application, silver diamine fluoride application, sealants, and restorative treatment as well as extractions.
In addition, to their service on the island, the UFCD Bahamas Mission Trip team organized a Hurricane Relief Fund in Gainesville in fall 2016, to benefit the community of Andros Island following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Matthew. Items donated by the UFCD community for this fund included monetary donations, clothing, food, water, school supplies and toiletries. Ultimately 38 boxes of donations were sent to the Red Cross Relief stationed in Morgan’s Bluff, Andros, Bahamas, where they were distributed to the people of Andros.
The mission trip team stays at the Pineville Motel each year where the owner printed and framed a photograph of Dr. Meghan Carter taken during the 2016 trip while she was petting his pet turkey, Izrael. At the time, Dr. Carter was in her second year of pediatric residency at UF. Now, as a graduate, she is practicing at Carr Pediatric Dentistry in Riverview, Florida, and took time out of her schedule to once again serve the children on Andros (and, hopefully, to pet her favorite turkey).
She was one of six dentists providing oversight and training during the trip. Dr. Ericka Bennett, Dr. Rhonda Moore, and Dr. Alicia Moore are three additional dental specialists and returning Bahamas mission trip faculty who have served on this trip since its inaugural trip in 2014. Joining this year’s trip as first time faculty in the Island of Andros, Bahamas was Dr. Aaron Scheps and Dr. Micaela Gibbs.
Christine Adams, D2
Andy Alvarez, D3
Ryan Clance, D1
Onni Franco, D1
Jas Guram, D2
Morgan Kubis, D1
Joey Lanzi, D2
Spencer Mathews, D2
Shane Mobley, D2
Amanda Mullersman, D3
Mimi Nguyen, D3
Eric Rabinowitz, D1
Emily Tan, D2
Tina Vo, D3
Dr. Ericka Bennett, UF Endodontics Residency Graduate
Dr. Meghan Carter, UF Pediatric Dentistry Residency Graduate
Dr. Micaela Gibbs, UF College of Dentistry Faculty
Dr. Alicia Moore, UF DMD Class of 2007, beginning UF Pediatric Residency Program in Fall 2017
Dr. Rhonda Moore, UF Pediatric Dentistry Residency Graduate
Charles Lesch, Technician
Dr. Aaron Scheps, Chief Resident, UF Pediatric Dentistry Residency