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In the clouds: Dentists volunteer in Peru

Cusco, Peru—A mission trip Oct. 4-11 by the Flying Doctors of America gave four ADA members a chance to volunteer in Andes mountain villages two miles or more above sea level.

"It was truly amazing to use our skills to unify people of differing means and cultures and to spread a healthy message through central Peru," said Dr. Keith Rojek, Northlake, Ill. "The people in these towns were respectful and very happy to see us. They held celebrations, performances, a parade and ceremony, and they waited in long lines, even in the rain, to be treated."

Also on the trip were Drs. Thomas and John Gale, brothers from Cornelia, Ga.; Dr. Gregory Gardner, Green Bay, Wis.; his wife Joanne, a registered dietician; and Dr. Gardner's staff members Becky Duel, R.D.H., and Cindy Rhode, a dental assistant.

The mission team also included two pulmonologists, an otolaryngologist, an internist, a pediatrician, an emergency room physician assistant, a chiropractor, a massage therapist, two nurses, a pre-medical student and a medical office worker.

"Over the course of the mission, the team saw nearly 2,000 people in Limatambo, Mollepata and Huarocondo, Peru," said Dr. Rojek. "At a clinic in Limatambo, there was one dental chair, but meager supplies and restorative materials. It was manned part time by a dental student under the supervision of a physician."

The dentists, he said, mainly provided extractions, education and preventive services, and they extracted more than 600 teeth or root tips each day. The volunteer dentists brought their own supplies and instruments.

For more information on the Flying Doctors of America, log on to www.fdoamerica.org.

For more information about other international volunteer opportunities, contact the ADA Center for International Development and Affairs by calling 1-312-440-2726 or e-mailing international@ada.org.