In 2011, Smile Brands Inc. sponsored its first week-long dental mission trip to Asuncion, Paraguay, where Smile Brands affiliated dentists and support staff donated their time and skills to provide dental care to 300 people in need around the community. The success of this trip sparked the first of many dental outreaches that the Smiles for Everyone Foundation would soon hold, both domestically in the United States, and abroad.
In partnership with Diaconia, a NGO with the mission to empower those living in poverty to live with dignity and freedom, the Smiles for Everyone Foundation has supported year-round dental outreaches in Paraguay since the Foundation’s first trip in 2011. During this year’s trip, Smile Brands Inc. affiliated dental providers and support staff provided dental care to over 550 individuals at orphanages, community centers and schools in some of the most impoverished communities surrounding Asuncion. In addition to bringing dental equipment and supplies to provide to the outpost, the Foundation team also partnered with local Paraguayan dentists to provide training on complex dental procedures and how to use the portable dental equipment so that they can continue to deliver Smiles throughout the year.
The team, comprised of Smile Brands Inc. employees, includes: Dr. Bobby Afrooz, Lead Dentist at Bright! Now Dental® in Burbank, CA; Steven C. Bilt, Founder and CEO of Smile Brands Inc. and Smiles for Everyone Foundation; Laura Dailey, VP Revenue Management at Smile Brands Inc. in Irvine, CA; Dr. Siv Eftekhari, Oral Surgeon at Monarch Dental® in Grapevine, TX; Dr. Edgardo Gonzalez, Lead Dentist at Monarch Dental in San Antonio, TX; Dr. Tim Herman, Lead Dentist at A+ Dental Care in Roseville, CA; Jeana Janik, Office Manager at Bright Now! Dental in Sandusky, OH; Dr. Wilner Loiseau, Lead Dentist at Monarch Dental in Plano, TX; Jody Ritson, Dental Assistant at Bright Now! Dental in Vancouver, WA; Jacqueline Rocamora, Hygienist at Newport Dental® in Norwalk, CA; Carlos Rojas, Executive Office Manager at Bright Now! Dental in Palm Harbor, FL; Angie Sotelo, Market Specialty Manager for Smile Brands Inc. in San Antonio, TX; and Crystal Strait, Executive Director at Smiles for Everyone Foundation.
Monday, July 16, 2018
After a long flight from Irvine, California to Asuncion, Paraguay, our team landed on Monday morning and went right to work, conducting their first outreach at the Colegio Tape Pyahu in Itaugua. Most of the members of the team had never been on a dental mission trip before so the day was filled with lessons on setting up and working with portable dental equipment. Our skilled team of dentists and support staff from across the United States came together quickly to deliver Smiles to over 60 locals from the Itaugua community and children from the Hogar Camino orphanage.
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Our team worked into the night on the second day of outreaches, continuing to deliver Smiles to the Hogar Camino orphanage and local Itaugua community. The dentists also spent the day building partnerships and training young, local Paraguayan dentists who will continue to deliver Smiles in Paraguay now that our team has returned home.
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
On the third day of outreaches, the Team provided dental care for 180 people at Iglesia Bautista Luz de Esperanza in Aregua. Oral Surgeon, Dr. Siavash Eftekhari, was able to deliver Smiles in more ways than one. After playing outside, a young girl fell and hit her head, causing a gash on her forehead that required stitches. Knowing that the girl probably wouldn’t have had proper care for her wound, Dr. Eftekhari took some dental sutures and stitched her wound, preventing possible infections.
Thursday, July 19, 2018
Day four of our Paraguay International Outpost Trip was filled with Smiles and wonderful patients as our Team delivered care to 120 people and provided dental education to the children from the Luque community. One woman who came to see our Team the day before was so appreciative of the kindness and care she received that she took pictures of all the Team members and came back to present everyone with the images as a token of her appreciation!
Friday, July 20, 2018
The Team was met with cold and rainy weather on the second to last day of their outreach, but that did not slow them down. Day five’s outreach was in an area where 7,000 families make a living by sorting through the local landfill for recycling. The need for dental care was so great that the team worked into the night to provide care for as many people as they could.
Saturday, July 21, 2018
Although the living conditions in this community are very rough, the spirits of these community members remain high. A group of children had found shells of violins, cellos and drums in the surrounding landfill and were able to refurbish the instruments using other landfill scraps to create an entire orchestra. As a show of appreciation as well as a bid farewell on the team’s last day, the children performed some songs, including Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida.”
Team member Laura Dailey explains, “Even when there is a language barrier, the love you give and receive is as evident as when you speak the same language.” Many of the team members realized that they took much more from the trip than they gave through their dental care. It was a truly rewarding experience.
Smiles for Everyone Foundation would like to thank Aseptico Inc., Colgate, Henry Schien Cares Foundation and KaVo Kerr Group, LLC who provided equipment and supplies for this trip. Without the support of all their partners and sponsors, the Foundation would not be able to provide dental care in seven countries and deliver Smiles for Everyone!