BONTOC, Mountain Province – This capital town has a new dentist who is more than passionate and committed to going to the ground to ensure that children will get the dental care they need.
Doctor Ivy Tamog-ong Wacnagan – Guesaed who was appointed to tthe position of dentist in a casual status by the Bontoc municipal government under the Municipal Health Office (MHO) decided to come home in her hometown to serve her kakailyan after working as a dentist overseas for almost nine years and practicing her profession away from home for more than 16 years.
A graduate of Doctor of Dentistry at the Pines City Educational Center in Baguio City in 1993, she put-up her own private dental clinic – the Livy Smile Dental Clinic based in Baguio City in May 2001 until May 2006.
In May 2006, she decided to apply as a dentist in a private dental clinic in Saudi Arabia where she stayed and worked for almost nine years.
When she decided to come home in the Philippines in 2014, she opened the Livy Dental Clinic based in Baguio City practicing her profession as a General Dentist. She loves to be of service to diverse clients who step into her clinic and seek oral health care. However, the calling to come home in Bontoc is stronger. Thus, she decided to turn over the management of her dental clinic to one of her protégé who is also a licensed dentist.
When asked what made her decide to come home, Doctor Ivy enumerated only two reasons. First, she was challenged with the numbers of her kakailyan who went to her private clinic for dental services and have no choice but to pay thousands only to have their teeth cleaned, fixed, restored or replaced with dentures. She said that most her clients are applicants who dream to enter the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) and fresh graduates applying in the uniformed service such as the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) too. She added that this could have been prevented and/or avoided if only children are taught at a young age how to take good care of their teeth.
“Perhaps, not everyone considers it as a priority. We are keen on the importance of washing hands and keeping our household clean, but we tend to let things slide when it comes to the state of our oral health and proper dental practices. Sometimes knowing what to do is not enough. You have to do it right, “she voiced.
This she said is the reason that she decided to take the job as the dentist of the Bontoc Municipal Government, including in her bucket of to do list the visitation to Child Development Centers (CDCs) to personally teach children how to properly brush their teeth.
“I have been practicing my profession serving mostly children of Arab. I believe it is high time for me to come back to serve my own kakailyan. Instead of taking good care of children in a foreign country, I should be here overseeing the dental health of our own children,” she remarked.
Second, she wants to stay close to her family after spending most of her years in other places. She added that it is high time that she spends more time with her family at the same time serving her kakailyan in raising dental health care awareness.
Once the dental clinic is in place at the Bontoc Municipal Capitol, Doctor Ivy does not only see herself settle in the four corners of her clinic in bringing dental services to the constituents. A dentist who has been around the outskirt areas in the Philippines in bringing free dental services to the deprived communities, she is more than motivated to visit the 16 barangays of Bontoc where 28 CDCs are located catering to a total of 578 Day Care children.
According to Doctor Ivy, she targets to visit all the CDCs in Bontoc before the School Year 2018 -2019 ends. As a jumpstart, Doctor Ivy together with the staff from the MHO visited Gonogon CDC and Balili CDC on January 24, 2019 ; Tocucan CDC on January 28, 2019; and Dantay CDC and Alab Oriente CDC on January 31, 2019.
She relayed that they distributed dental kit to include a toothbrush, toothpaste, and soap provided by the Department of Health (DOH). At the same time, she demonstrated the proper technique in brushing the teeth.
However, she admitted that the dental kit to be distributed to all the Day Care children is not enough. Luckily, she was able to contact generous individuals who also trace their roots in Bontoc and are willing to give back to the community. Accordingly, they committed to providing additional dental kits so that every Day Care children will receive their share.
Per agreement with the respective Child Development Workers, tooth brushing of teeth will be included in the daily routine of the Day Care Children after their Feeding Program. This is also to train the children to brush their teeth after eating as the most effective and cost-effective way of keeping the teeth healthy.
Aside from this, pregnant mothers who will be visiting the MHO for their pre-natal check-up will avail of the oral examination to be conducted by Doctor Ivy.
Also, months from now, the MHO through the dental clinic will be offering dental services to clients with equivalent fees. These will include oral examination, dental restoration, oral prophylaxis, and teeth extraction.
As an aside, Doctor Ivy is affiliated with the Philippine Dental Association (PDA) and Benguet Dental Chapter.
Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey in a separate interview said that it is high time that a dentist is employed by the municipal government highlighting that oral health should not be overlooked as it is a part of overall health.
Odsey added that with a dental clinic in place at the MHO, it will be a lesser financial burden to the constituents since they can avail of oral examination, dental restoration, oral prophylaxis, and teeth extraction services at a lower rate since it is a government-owned clinic. Informed of the plans and activities of Doctor Ivy, the chief executive expressed his happiness that the dentist made time and effort in visiting the Day Care children to personally teach them how to take good care of their teeth.
It has been years since a permanent dentist was assigned at the municipal government. The last dentist employed by the Department of Health (DOH) is Virginia Fagsao who served starting 1984 and then later transferred to the DOH- Provincial Office in 2000. While stationed in Bontoc, Fagsao also visited other municipalities of Mountain Province as part of her area of assignments.