Before they return home from their mission to La Romana, a Dominican town where residents work harvesting sugar cane, RSDM volunteers receive a batch of crayoned thank you cards.
They were made by children from the local school and orphanage who visited the clinic for screenings and treatment.
In four days, the RSDM team provided dental services to 111 patients ranging from ages 6 to 17, and performed a total of 170 dental procedures. Last year, on the mission’s inaugural trip, students performed mostly filings but this time around, they had the chance to do everything from surgical extractions to root canals and preventive care.
For RSDM students, it was a revelatory experience. “Seeing the level of oral health needs there, and being able to have an impact, helped them find a larger sense of purpose,’’ said Dr. Herminio Perez, Director of Student Affairs, Diversity and Inclusion, who led the trip. “It’s is not the same as, ‘I just want to be a dentist.’ Our reality is, you go and have patients where people hardly ever see a dentist. It helps them understand the meaning of why we’re doing this.’’
The outreach program was a collaborative effort between World of Smiles and
Fundacion Mir, with the support of the International College of Dentists and the New York Academy of Dentistry.