Thirteen dentists and volunteers supported by Pacific Dental Services (PDS) provided oral healthcare to underserved patients at the PDS Foundation’s Clínica Dental near Antigua, Guatemala, during their mission from February 4 to February 9.
The team served more than 200 patients with $205,363 in donated dentistry. Also, the team provided 900 fluoride washes to students from local schools.
“I’m always inspired by the work and tenacity of our volunteers as they provide much needed oral healthcare to the patients of Guatemala,” said Kyle Guerin, director of the PDS Foundation and corporate social responsibility.
“This was the first international service trip of the year for the Foundation. Our teams worked very hard to provide donated dentistry to patients, and, for some, this was their first time visiting the clinic. Our hope is that we were able to provide patients with the care they needed,” said Guerin.
With a population of 17.6 million, more than half of all the residents of Guatemala live in poverty, PDS said. Dental diseases continue to be a serious problem for Guatemalans, with poverty, poor education, and malnutrition being the major factors, PDS added.
In January 2015, the PDS Foundation established a clinic in Xenacoj. Through a partnership with Mission Impact, Beeline Wheelchairs, and the University of San Carlos Dental School, the PDS Foundation Clinic provides care to many individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities.
“It was a pleasure and honor to serve in Guatemala at the Foundation’s dental clinic,” said Dr. Baha Duraini, owner dentist of Hickory Creek Dental Group and Orthodontics. “The patients are extremely grateful. It’s a very humbling experience that reminds us why we chose this profession in the first place, to help people in need.”
To ensure the clinic’s long-term sustainability, the Foundation established a residency program with the University of San Carlos to ensure oral health services are provided year-round. The program has graduated eight students, with two students currently in their 10-month rotation.
The Foundation also provides oral healthcare to underserved populations in Ethiopia and Fiji. Since its first service trip in 2010, more than 490 PDS-supported clinicians and volunteers have served internationally, providing care to more than 15,000 patients.