May 2020 Volume LV Number 3


Resident's Corner

March 2020 Volume LV Number 2

Pediatric Dental Service Abroad
Jessica M. Baron, D.M.D.
One of my fondest memories in dental school was a dental service  trip to Pisac, Peru. I treated a myriad of underserved local patients, some of which have never seen a dentist. Reflecting on this memory, I decided to investigate opportunities available for pediatric dentists to make a global impact.  There are two main global non-profit pediatric dental service opportunities that come to mind: Dental Volunteers for Israel (DVI) and Global Dental Relief.
This past December, I attended a fundraiser for DVI to learn more about this organization. I was also drawn to the fundraiser because Mi- chael Zegen and Caroline Aaron—two main cast members from "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"—were leading a discussion about the highly anticipated third season.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I arrived thirty minutes early to the event, which proved to be highly beneficial. Not because I had an unob- structed view of the stage, but rather I was fortunate enough to sit next to Bella and Dr. Barry Weintraub (a practicing endodontist in the New York area). After several minutes of small talk, I asked Dr. Weintraub if he had ever volunteered for DVI. His face lit up in an exuberant smile and he said:
"I have volunteered at DVI on four separate occasions. I have found these experiences to be one of the highlights of my profes- sional career. As an Endodontist, I was amazed by the need of care in the patient population. I met dedicated, amazing dentists from around the world. In summary, I look forward to volunteer- ing at DVI again."
DVI is the largest free dental clinic in Israel, operating solely on glob- al volunteers and donations—government grants account for less than 5% of the clinics operating costs. This clinic primarily offers care to any at-risk-children and adolescents, as well as Holocaust Surviors and the elderly. The clinic was founded by Trudi Birger on the following tenets:
  1. To provide totally free care to Jerusalem’s most unserved children regardless of ethnicity or religion.
  2. Patients would be referred from the city’s welfare office.
  3. The children must participate in the dental hygiene preventative program, with recalls every six months.
  4. Volunteer dentists from all corners of the world would be the mainstay of the clinic’s staff.
If you decide to volunteer, there is an application process on the website. Please note that you will need at least a minimum of a full two years’ experience on your license. This is a highly sought out opportu- nity, and you will need to apply at least a year in advance—do not worry, there are always last minute cancellations. The clinic operates four days a week in the morning. Worried about bringing supplies? Do not fret! The clinic has state-of-the-art equipment and even provides you with scrubs. Worried about housing? DVI provides you with an apartment! All that you are responsible for is transportation to and from the airport, food  and entertainment. Worried about not speaking Hebrew? The dental assistants are happy to translate for you.
Global Dental Relief (GDR) was founded in 2001 initially as the Himalayian Dental Relief Project by Dr. Andrew Holecek and Lau-  rie Matthews (the former director of Colorado State Parks). Since its inception, GDR has staffed more than 2,600 volunteers providing over $35 million of care to over 170,000 children. GDR provides continuity  of care by visiting the same location several times a year. The locations that GDR serves are: Nepal, India, Guatemala, Cambodia, Kenya and Mexico. These clinics are set up in schools and municipal facilities with the exception of Kenya, where the clinic is housed in a local medical center. Dental volunteers (you can also volunteer as a general volunteer) provide examinations, prophies, restorations and extractions and fluoride treatment. Just like DVI, GDR places these children on a recall schedule to ensure continuity of care.
Sir Winston Churchill (my favorite historical figure) once said, "you make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give." As dentists we are constantly giving back to our local community, but we can also make a global impact.
Website Links
About the Author
Jessica M. Baron, D.M.D., is a second year pediatric dental resident at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, NY. She grew up in Charleston, SC, and completed her undergraduate education from Duke University in 2010 with a B.A. in Public Policy and minor in Art History. She graduated from the James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in 2015. She has earned a general practice residency certificate from Yale-New Haven Hospital and a dental oncology certificate from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

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