This blog post is brought to you by our Travel Services Coordinator, Cheryl R., who recently led a dental team to the Dominican Republic.
What do you do when you have a fear of going to the dentist? You go on a mission trip with a dental team, of course!
I saw over 400 children’s faces in the Dominican Republic as they walked up those stairs to go to the oral hygiene class and then to see the dental hygienist. It’s very true that kids are kids, no matter what country you are in. Their faces showed that they were all a little nervous, although the older kids tried to hide it. They had the same looks on their faces as my girls do when they see the dentist.
They were all smiles in the hygiene class as they had their teeth colored pink and then got a new toothbrush and toothpaste to get them all cleaned up. The smiles faded a little as they sat in line to see the dental hygienist. However, they soon saw how kind and gentle they were and the smiles and jokes began again. Lots of happy hoots and hollers were heard when a child had no cavities and didn’t need to go see the dentist. Their chests would puff out in pride as they handed back their charts to the check-in ladies and walked back down those stairs to their classes.
Slight groans were heard when a person needed to go sit it in the “dentist” line. One little boy stuck in my mind all that week and still today. He was a younger boy, maybe 2nd or 3rd grade. He was all smiles and laughing with his friends. We even had a picture taken together and he sat really close to me and gave the photographer the “peace” sign. Once he had moved down the line and was sitting in the chair that was “next,” I noticed there were huge tears rolling down his face. It didn’t take long for my mother-hen instinct to kick in and he was sitting in my lap and I was drying his tears.
I learned that it doesn’t matter what country you are in, as a mom, when a child is hurting, you want to reach out and love them and protect them. No words were needed as we sat there, but I prayed for him and rubbed his back. When the dentist came to get him he bravely walked to the dental chair and got his cavity fixed.
I’m sure when he got home he told his mom all about it and I imagined his mom had lots of extra hugs for this precious boy. I thought a lot about his mom and how glad I’m sure she was that her son’s teeth were cleaned and healthy once again.
I watched as the dental team, a very well-oiled machine, worked lovingly with each child they encountered. They rejoiced when they saw first-hand how their efforts over the years have made a huge impact in the children’s oral health. I was encouraged to see a group of dental professionals all come together with all of their different strengths and talents to serve these children.
When I returned home I called my dentist and made those dental cleaning appointments for my family. Instead of feeling the familiar panic and fear over a dentist, I felt extreme gratitude. I am so thankful for EG Dental in Kansas City and for the impact they make on hundreds of children.