Dentistry is a very specific trade that one develops after years of education and training. With this skill comes a great amount of power and opportunity to serve, and with great skill comes great responsibility. Many dentists have decided to answer the call of third world countries that lack proper health care and specifically dental care. They do this in a variety of ways from sending supplies, supporting a local clinic financially, or traveling to the country for a short-term trip where they provide dental care to as many patients as they are physically able to for 7 to 10 days. In my capstone/thesis experience I propose that instead of practicing the “give a man a fish” philosophy, dentists practice the “teach men to fish” philosophy. This is called the empowerment theory, and it involves the dentist passing on his skills to leaders in a community to address the detrimental issue of improper dental care that is so common in third world countries. I show the theory to be effective through the description of my experiences in Belize, India, and finally Ghana where I participated in a research study with faculty from the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry. Through research of other methods and many hours of experience in other countries, I can prove that dentists following the empowerment theory can make a sustainable impact in the communities they help.
Advisor(s) or Committee Chair
Dr. Daniel Carter
Biology | Dentistry
Vittitow, Charles W., "Empowering the World Through Dentistry" (2012). Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects. Paper 293.