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Mission to Mexico

Park Ridge, Ill.—When Dr. Maria Loukas of Park Ridge, read about a dental mission to Mexico's Copper Canyon region in the Jan. 7 issue of the ADA News, she decided it was time to make a mission trip herself.

"I had been looking for sometime to do volunteer work," said Dr. Loukas, "and this gave me the perfect opportunity. Since my son, Dr. Thanasi Loukas, could cover the office, I had the freedom to fulfill my dream."

During her weeklong trip in February, Dr. Loukas was impressed, she said, by the level of organization of Dr. Fred Kalinoff, who works with LIGA International to organize the dental mission trips.

"I was amazed to see the organization, the equipment, instruments and materials Dr. Kalinoff had with him," she said. "Two portable, totally functional units were set up in a classroom of the school. By 10:30 a.m. we were ready to start treating patients."

Dr. Loukas said she was pleasantly surprised that most of the children they treated did not have gross decay and that cleanings, fluoride and sealants plus any needed restorations the mission team provided would help them have good oral health for the long term.

"Adults were a different story," she said. "Many had advanced periodontal disease. We did mostly extractions for them.

"Personally," she added, "the best experience was the warmth, kindness, appreciation we received from our patients."

In May, she donated two dental chairs to the organization to help equip a permanent dental clinic in Mexico.

"I will be returning to Mexico as soon as I am needed and going on a trip to Guatemala next January," she said. "The great thing about the clinic in Mexico is that many missions could be planned during the year and many different dentists could volunteer to provide these wonderful people with a lifetime that is pain free."

"There is still a great need for donated surgical and operative instruments, as well as supplies for the new clinic," said Dr. Kalinoff. "Anyone interested in helping with donations can contact me."

Dental mission trips are now scheduled for October, November and January.

For details, log on to www.ligainternational.org or contact Dr. Fred Kalinoff at 1-651-428-7906 or kalinoff@comcast.net.

To learn about other international volunteer opportunities, contact the ADA Center for International Development and Affairs at 1-312-440-2726 or international@ada.org.