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Health Volunteers Overseas honors N.C. oral surgeon

May 05, 2014

By Stacie Crozier

Dr. Frost 
Durham, N.C.—For nearly three decades, Dr. David E. Frost has donated his time, talents and energy to help improve the oral health of people in need worldwide, but his most memorable experiences are those that reach one person at a time.

Dr. Frost, an oral surgeon in Durham, N.C., received a 2014 Health Volunteers Overseas Golden Apple Award for his "extraordinary educational contributions" as an international volunteer, educator and administrator since 1987.

"When I was volunteering with Health Volunteers Overseas in Nepal with Dr. Rick Scott, another great HVO volunteer, we saw Nina Lama, a 20-year-old girl in Katmandu, Nepal (but from the Everest region of Nepal) with an unrepaired cleft lip and palate. This doesn't exist in the U.S. I had never seen an adult with a cleft lip that was unrepaired. We treated her in the process of teaching the Nepalese surgeon basics of cleft care. When she left two weeks later she was going back to her village, high in the Himalayan Mountains. She needed other long term care, but now she was acceptable in her village. Basanta, the local surgeon, said, 'David, she won't be back, she can get married and have a family now.' I realized that we were changing faces and lives as we taught and served with HVO."

Dr. Frost has taught and provided care through HVO programs in Nepal, Vietnam, India and Peru and has also made other mission trips to Cuba and Chile.

He is the chair of the ADA Committee on International Programs and Development and the ADA International Development Subcommittee. He served on the HVO Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Steering Committee. For 12 years served on the HVO board of directors, and was chair for six. He was part of the team that launched the HVO Oral Health Initiative, sponsored by the ADA and the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.

"Many people have provided much for me to be able to do what I have gotten to do with HVO—family, friends, mentors, many," said Dr. Frost. "My wife and I have always felt that we could and should help others since we were so fortunate. My mentors in oral and maxillofacial surgery instilled that in me. I always think of myself as a teacher and mentor and HVO and international work make that possible.

"Seeing the smile on the face of a patient after a procedure or feeling the excitement in a student or young surgeon when he or she first understands how to do something or when or why something is done for a patient is very rewarding," he added. "Being a part of that, where there is so much need has been good for my soul. I believe surgery is a calling and helping the least fortunate to care or to education so they can provide care is a benefit to all. I am honored to receive the Golden Apple from HVO."

The ADA and the AAOMS sponsor HVO's dental education programs. The ADA International Development Subcommittee and the ADA Division of Global Affairs oversee the programs.

Currently, HVO has dentistry programs in Cambodia, Kenya, Laos, Nicaragua, Rwanda, St. Lucia and Tanzania. Volunteers must be members of the American Dental Association or the Canadian Dental Association with a current license.

To learn more about HVO dental education activities, visit To learn about other international volunteer opportunities, contact the ADA Division of Global Affairs at 1-312.440.2726, or visit the ADA International Volunteer Webpage