A team of volunteer professionals from Aspen Dental practices joined with Global Dental Relief earlier this month to provide dental care and oral health education to more than 740 local school children in Antigua, Guatemala.
“It’s an amazing blessing to have the ability to take care of others and alleviate their pain. There were multiple instances in which a child would sit in my chair, and I would have to fight back tears,” said Reham El-Hennawey, DDS, an endodontist from the Tampa, Florida, area.
“These trips make a huge difference because not only are we helping the underserved communities at that moment in time, but hopefully educating them to be able to care for themselves in the future,” El-Hennawey said.
The eight dentists, three dental hygienists, four dental assistants, and two support team members spent eight days providing nearly 1,500 dental procedures during the Smiles for Guatemala campaign, marking the first time an Aspen team has traveled to the country.
The procedures included 596 fillings, 126 scaling and root planings, 195 extractions, and 488 fluoride varnishes, ensuring that these children could resume their daily lives pain-free. Each child, many of whom had never seen a dentist before, also received oral health education.
“I thought we were going to help change the lives of these kids, but what I didn’t know was how much they’d change mine,” said Savannah Reynolds, DDS, an Aspen Dental practice owner in Greenville, South Carolina.
“You come here to change the lives of children, but what you realize is it makes you want to change the entire world,” said dental assistant Tammy Coffey of Kentucky. “This has inspired me to want to continue to help people everywhere.”
Previous trips have included Haiti, Honduras, Tanzania, and Nicaragua.
“The Smiles for Guatemala team of volunteers truly represents the commitment that dentists and teams from across Aspen Dental have to changing lives through proper dental care,” said Arwinder Judge, DDS, chief clinical officer at Aspen Dental Management.
“Dental care is integral to overall health, and poor oral hygiene can lead to multiple other health issues including problems with diabetes and heart disease down the road. That’s why it is so important for us to carry out relief missions in countries like Guatemala, where people need it the most,” said Judge.
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