Around the world, from places near and far, the holiday season is in full swing. For many, it’s a time of giving back, of saying thanks and reflecting on the year that was. It’s also a time of year where we all strive to become better people. That’s the spirit that embodies Fundación Dr. Garg in the Dominican Republic.
With less than three weeks until Christmas, a group of over 30 dentists joined the island nation’s premier dental surgery training facility and free-of-charge clinic and treated some 400 patients with a variety of maxillofacial needs. Dr. Mann personally performed multiple advanced implant procedures in three days of surgery.
The clinic, founded by Dr. Arun K. Garg, a 25-plus-year dental educator and national lecturer, was launched with two goals in mind: provide private-sector support to the Dominican Republic’s health care system, and educate the next generation of dentists on the intricacies of dental implants and related subspecialties. By working with actual patients in clinical settings, doctors acquire on-the-job training impossible to replicate in classrooms alone.
“Speaking strictly from a volume perspective, there really is no other program like this in the world today,” said Dr. Garg in remarks concluding the third day of surgery. “This weekend alone, our doctors placed nearly 500 implants and treated around 400 patients. The days are long, but exhilarating, fostering an atmosphere of collaboration and team spirit that helps all students meet the challenges at hand. I could not ask for a better group of talented individuals. I commend Dr. Mann for his dedication and effort on this recent trip.”
Fundación Dr. Garg, (whose parent company is the International Dental Implant Association, a networking organization for doctors who have taken Dr. Garg’s continuing education courses), sends up to three missionary trips to the DR per month. Each trip includes approximately 30 doctors who work in pairs treating up to 30 patients. In addition to placing nearly 500 implants, doctors also completed 41 sinus lifts, five crestal sinus lifts, and 13 ridge splits. All of these procedures are dental implant requirements when patients lack sufficient bone and the need to support the implant. Sufficient bone is the difference between a successful outcome and a failed prosthesis.
Since opening to the general public last October, the three-floor, 17,000 square foot facility can treat up to 200 patients a day in 26 donated dental chairs. The Dominican government reviews each patient’s profiles and their needs are assessed. Patients found unable to afford care are treated for free. Some of those patients leave the clinic with multiple dental implants, while others have rotten teeth removed and their third molars (wisdom teeth) extracted if they are a source of discomfort, or are negatively impacting a patient’s bite.
In addition to supplying medical equipment and performing much-needed dental procedures including socket preservations, implants, and sinus lifts, the IDIA-sponsored team helps local doctors gain new skills. That way, enhanced post-operative oral care reduces the likelihood of medical complications in the weeks between IDIA trips. The instruction also exposes Dominican Republic doctors to American-standard levels of care that they can then implement in their own communities, extending Fundación Dr. Garg’s reach.
Thanks to these efforts patients are on the road to permanent tooth replacement, resulting in improved nutrition and superior self-esteem. In a country where tourism dominates economic growth – $16 billion in tourism dollars have been added to the nation’s economy in the last three years – the hospitality industry offers an important gateway out of poverty. These positions require individuals with friendly dispositions whose happy, healthy smiles transmit a sense of warmth and welcome to international visitors.
“On behalf of my entire organization, from the directors of the clinic, to our world-class dentists like Dr. Mann and to our appreciative patients, none of this success would be possible without all of you, “Garg added. “You are what makes Fundación Dr. Garg possible, and you are the people who are making a difference, revolutionizing developing nation care. Giving thanks truly knows no national borders.”