Thursday, Apr 15

Free dental clinic brings healthier smiles to youth

December 09, 2017 | Juvy Ann Radaza

Raymart Mascariñas (in dental chair) wears his best smile after TIMA dentist Dr. Raymond Lim (left) finishes his filling on his upper teeth. They're accompanied by Dr. Lim's wife and fellow TIMA dentist Dr. May Figuraccion Lim (background). 【Photo by Juvy Ann Radaza】

Story Highlights

  • On December 9 and 10, Tzu Chi Foundation formally began its cooperation with the government of Bohol under a recently-ratified Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) by holding its 325th Dental Mission. Dr. Cecilio Putong National High School in Tagbilaran City became the first to benefit from the MoA, with 398 students having undergone free dental filling, extraction, and cleaning.

  • Signed in August 2017, the MoA aims to provide adequate dental care to schools all over the island province. The local government will provide Tzu Chi the resources and manpower to pursue its Mission of Medicine.


Many Filipinos suffer from dental problems. The pain is too much to handle for many youths.

Tzu Chi Foundation understands the suffering of indigents, especially children. In light of this, Tzu Chi volunteers, together with Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) dentists and local volunteers, hosted a two-day dental mission to provide relief to the Boholano Youth.

One is 15-year-old Raymart Mascariñas, a Grade-10 student of Dr. Cecilio Putong National High School (DCPNHS). A sensitive tooth on his right has caused him unease at school since elementary. The pain was too much for him to bear during class, sometimes forcing him to skip school.

He lives with his parents and a brother in a simple house where the dining room also serves a bedroom. His father works at a lottery stall where he earns 10 percent from the bets, while his mother is a housewife. Sending him to a dentist to have his tooth checked was difficult.

“My father is the one who works for a living to support our daily necessities. After work, he also does household chores, since my mother is always out with her friends.” Raymart stated. “My father’s income can’t even support our needs.”

He visited the barangay clinic once, but it couldn’t give him the proper aid due to lack of equipment. Imagine his delight upon learning about Tzu Chi’s dental mission.

“Upon knowing the dental mission, I grabbed the opportunity without hesitation. This is an opportunity for me to gain my confidence talking with other people,” He stated.

Filling his teeth is quite painful, but to endure minutes of pain is worth years of his normal life. After almost 20 minutes of composite filling on his upper teeth, Raymart was happy.

Most children are fond of eating sweets. Lack of care and money for oral hygiene results in tooth problems.

In the case of Avegail Pasilbas, having her teeth removed is necessary to be able to focus on her studies.

Fifth among eleven children, Avegail is determined to finish his education. His father works as a farmer while her mother is a housewife. Keeping such a big family afloat is no easy feat, much less their dental needs.

Upon entering high school, she started to feel pain on her teeth, causing her discomfort during classes. The pain also gives her a hard time sleeping at night and going to school.

“I really want to focus in school since I want to graduate with good grades. But due to my tooth decay I make absences and can’t even focus on my work,“ Avegail shared.

Avegail works as a house helper to support her studies and lessen the burden of his father, but due to heavy work her dental problem has grown worse. This year, her brother got hired as a security guard, so she decided to stop working.

Tzu Chi’s dental mission took out Avegail’s aching left tooth. Despite the nervous feeling, she opted to undergo extraction.

“This is a big help to me because I really don’t have any amount to pay for the dental fee. There is no amount can pay for your kindness to people, especially to the students,” she stated.

  • A Tzu Chi volunteer assists Raymart in entering the mobile dental health bus. The buses are provided by the local government as part of an agreement with Tzu Chi.【Photo by Juvy Ann Radaza】

  • Wearing a friendly smile, the Tzu Chi volunteer treats Raymart with great care to let him feel at ease.【Photo by Juvy Ann Radaza】

  • TIMA dentist Dr. Raymond Lim performs the filling on Raymart, assisted by Tzu Chi volunteers during the process.【Photo by Juvy Ann Radaza】

  • Avegail Pasilbas, 17 years old, undergoes a skin test to determine a possible allergic reaction to the anesthetic to be administered later. She feels nervous since it is her first time to see a dentist. 【Photo by Juvy Ann Radaza】

  • TIMA dentist Esmail Dar Santos takes great care in removing the tooth that ails Avegail, as it’s her first time undergoing such a procedure.【Photo by Juvy Ann Radaza】

  • The dentist gives Avegail advice on post-operative care to prevent any infection.【Photo by Juvy Ann Radaza】

  • Aside from dental services, patients during the mission receive free medicine to help ease the pain following a procedure.【Photo by Juvy Ann Radaza】