Biological Sciences


DeBoef, Brenton

Advisor Department





Q'eqchi', Campur, oral health

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.


As a part of the Frontlines Mission’s team, I joined their mission to teach, build, and restore the poor and indigenous areas of Guatemala. With the goal of combining my passion and pursuit of a dental career with public health, I joined the medical team and assisted in treatment of over 1000 Q’eqchi’ locals for a variety of conditions such as scabies, stomach ailments, asthma, arthritis, and parasites. I assisted professionals in the oral surgery procedures including multiple extractions and cleft palate cases. Perhaps most importantly for the future oral health of the Q’eqchi’ people, I was able to introduce a new aspect to the health team’s mission and educate the hundreds of men, woman, and children who came seeking care. I taught good oral health practices and how important it is to their overall systemic health. Because many are unable to read, I used a variety of interactive lessons and activities to teach them small and easy steps to keeping a healthy mouth and a healthy body. I utilized visually interactive games and activities that showed how plaque accumulates on teeth and becomes a breeding site for the production of bacteria. The importance of mechanically removing plaque on a regular basis was demonstrated as well as the aftermath of not doing so, which at this point, is their reality.

My goal was not only to teach them oral hygiene methods, but also to raise awareness to the importance of implementing these methods. Because professional medical and dental are scarce in the city of Campur and the greater Alta Verapas region, encouraging preventative oral health care such as daily brushing and flossing was a crucial part of my mission. It was important to me that I was not only able to provide the information but that I was able to provide the tools for them, whether standard or primitive, to begin implementing what they were instructed, and that in doing so, it would make a positive impact on other systemic issues and their daily lives. Unfortunately, the Q’eqchi people don’t have the luxury of going to the local Wal-Mart for a toothbrush and toothpaste. The town of Campur as well as its surrounding villages is far from the civilization of a large city and the benefits that it provides. Many of the these people have little or no basic knowledge of any health practices, and I wanted this project and mission to be a first of many humanitarian approaches that I will take in my life and in my career to improve the human civilization both near and far. I am hopeful that my experience will create awareness of just how great the global need is in this field as well as how we all can continue to make a difference both now and in the future.