Sometime after I first began volunteering in the Whitewater Affordable Dental Clinic in 2010 and before I took the position of Executive Director in 2017, I had the privilege of spending 18 months in the "Land of the Eternal Spring"- aka Guatemala.
These are NOT what a typical 3 year old Guatemalan girl from the village's teeth look like... but this is the impact that can happen when change is made!! Education that counts. By this age, most kids in Guatemala have had debilitating pain from tooth decay and infection that can affect their whole body. So, so proud of Hilda Chiquitó for her countless hours, months of studying and years of service in preventative dentistry to her country!
I am blessed to have been able to travel on many out of the country dental mission trips both in Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. I have anesthetized children for the removal of permanent teeth that came in no more than a year ago but due to poor diet, poor oral hygiene and a decayed baby tooth which was supposed to hold it's spot, are nothing more than a source of pain and health problems. I've seen countless children and adults alike who are struggling to be productive at school, work and home due to dental conditions. I have left every one of those mission trips knowing we'd barely scratched the surface of needs and in some ways contributed to more. Necessarily taking out grossly decayed teeth removes the infection but brings on it's own set of additional problems.
Today my friend and former dental hygiene student sent me this picture of her and her daughter in the clinic. It touched me to see pearly whites on a 3 year old Guatemalan girl. To be honest, in all my time working in 3rd world countries, I can count on one hand how many smiles I've seen like hers in children. It will always be my passion to share what access to knowledge and preventative dental care can do for everyone.
I'm proud of the work Affordable Dental Care is doing for those in the gap right here in Wisconsin! Neglecting dental needs due to cost simply leads to more needs and more costs. Yet many Americans are stuck.
If the vision of making ADC nationwide seems crazy, maybe you haven't experienced what I and the 1 in 3 Americans without access to dental care have. We are only 1 step in front of 3rd world countries. And in some ways, not even.