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El Salvador 2015

For those who’ve never traveled much in ‘emerging’ or third world countries, I would encourage you to expand your horizons and experiences. The recent trip my family and members of my staff took to El Salvador wasn’t my first, but it was certainly a unique and fondly memorable one for many reasons.

My staff had ‘caught the vision’ this past spring as we hosted and restored the smile of Dr. Roxana Moran from San Salvador. We had met Roxana eight years ago in her home country where she and her husband, Mario, hosted us as part of a larger dental/medical mission team. Although we had planned to return much earlier than this past January or 2015, busy schedules had prevented such a trip. Much credit is owed to a diligent staff of three expanded duties assistants: Stephanie Poe, Brittany Ford, and Melissa Callahan; a newly graduated hygienist: Emily Hamill; and our office manager, Lucy Hill; whom all worked with a ‘can do’ attitude in putting the details of the trip together and also raising funds to support the trip.

We held separate days of work in the office where the entire team ‘donated’ their time and talent without pay, we provided a reduced fee schedule for cash payments that didn’t involve insurance plans, and marketed the days as an opportunity to HELP SUPPORT OUR MISSION TRIP! Along with the generosity of Indiana University School of Dentistry, we were able to take along four fully function mobile dental units plus a separate ‘unit’ of an ultrasonic scaler powered by a deck sprayer (continuous water pressure source!) to complete our mobile clinic. We spent three days providing much needed cleanings/scalings, resin restorations, and extractions to very appreciative patients. The Salvadorean culture is one that has always impressed me as being genuinely gracious and appreciative of all that is provided to them.

On Thursday, we visited the Evangelica University in San Salvador where with the help of a translator, I was able to educate a lecture room of some 90 students and visiting doctors of the value and benefits of the Atlas Comfort Denture implant system. While I lectured, my clinical and office staff spoke to the auxiliary students that also receive their training at the University.

That afternoon provided an opportunity to demonstrate the simple surgery steps involved in placing the implants (four placed in an edentulous maxilla) and the prosthetic ease of converting an existing albeit, loose denture to one securely and immediately fixed in place.

We all need to look up from our daily routines of home, office, then home again. Even if there is a weekend to the shore, lake, mountains or whatever distraction is nearby, it doesn’t nearly begin to open your eyes and hearts to how the majority of the world is forced to live and eke out the meagerness of mere survival. For many people in the rest of the world, each day brings unknown challenges and threats but we will always realize how blessed we are and what a pleasure it is to work with high volume suction, good lighting, and ergonomic chairs and stools!

I want to extend my thanks to Nita Weissman and the Dentatus organization for generously providing two complete surgical kits and an implant assortment. One kit was provided to the surgery department at the school and another was gifted to Dr. Mario who provided his office to use for the surgical demonstration.

Live each day enjoying the blessings and opportunities that are ours to share!

Ted Reese, DDS, MAGD

Dr. Reese and his wife, Joy