A group of 12 students and four faculty members from University of the Pacific’s Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry spent their spring break over the last week of March traveling to Central America to provide much-needed care to people in Guatemala.
Based out of a dental clinic in Xenacoj, just outside of Antigua, the volunteers spent their time providing a wide range of treatment to children and adults. Services included 48 cleanings, 154 direct restorations, 55 extractions, and 14 root canal therapies, as well as numerous sealant and fluoride applications.
More than 100 patients, including some who traveled from as far as two hours away, were able to benefit from the care provided.
The clinic was established by the Pacific Dental Services Foundation in 2015 and is able to serve patients year-round with the support of volunteers and dental students and residents. Representatives from the foundation were on site to host the volunteers from the Dugoni School and thank them for their involvement.
The volunteers also received generous donations of clinic supplies from the Henry Schein Cares Foundation.
This trip was the second opportunity for Dugoni School volunteers to provide care at the clinic in Guatemala. However, more recent opportunities were postponed in due to the pandemic.
The student leaders were active in organizing a variety of fundraisers over the past year to help support the cost of the trip.
“The amount of work we completed before the trip paled in comparison to seeing all of our efforts come to fruition as we fell into a clinical flow of working as a team and treating the beautiful people of Guatemala,” said Kayla Hunt, DDS ’24. “Hearing all of the positive feedback from our students and faculty about the group activities and clinical aspects of the trip, as well as from our patients, left me feeling fulfilled in my role as a trip leader.”
“The service trip to Guatemala was an experience of a lifetime,” added Ethan Madison, DDS ’23. “We were able to render dental care for over 100 patients, most of whom received multiple treatments addressing a range of issues. A unique aspect of the trip was that most patients would stay in the clinic until we were all finished. As a result, we would witness our patients’ joy attributed to their dental experience throughout the whole day! Our team members, including faculty, students and clinic staff, worked closely together to ensure top-quality treatment outcomes, learning and fun.”
In addition to providing care, the volunteers had opportunities for sightseeing activities. They went on an Antigua ATV Coffee Tour which included riding the all-terrain vehicles through Antigua as well as a ride to a local coffee farm, La Azotea, in the nearby city of Jocotenango. They also enjoyed several group dinners, including two hosted by members of the Pacific Dental Services Foundation. Half of the volunteers were also able to do a Corazon de Agua hike on the last day of the trip.
“The Guatemalan patients were friendly, flexible and most appreciative of the dental care they received, and the dental facility was well-equipped, maintained and supplied,” said Dr. Terry Hoover, associate professor in the department of diagnostic sciences. “The student leaders did a superior job and we all appreciated the collegiality and teamwork. It was an amazing and enjoyable trip.”
Future international outreach is in the works, as a group of students and faculty are already organizing plans for a trip to Jamaica to be held over the school’s fall break.