In January, Vinnie Verderosa, CDT, MDT, Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine, spent nine days working with the Giving Through Smiles Foundation in Neltume, Chile, a remote logging village in the foothills of the Andes Mountains. He was the only technician in a 10-person team from New York, including prosthodontists and dentists. They joined forces with dentists and dental students from a university in Chile to fabricate 50 dentures and treat 150 children with rampant tooth decay.
A clinic was set up in the lunchroom of a school, along with two rooms for denture work. The volunteers brought materials with them from the U.S., including teeth and articulators donated by Ivoclar Vivadent. The equipment was provided by the Chilean dental school and was very limited, with some of the patients treated on school desks that substituted for dental chairs.
Dentists and students from the university met with patients ahead of time to perform exams and schedule appointments, so when the volunteers arrived, they knew what work the patient needed and could immediately take an impression. "We just came in and banged out the work," says Verderosa. And it was a lot of work; he even pulled an all-nighter and worked straight through the next day to finish as many dentures as he could.
"It's a great experience working with prosthodontists who are so knowledgeable and caring," says Verderosa, who was also part of the group's inaugural trip last year to Patagonia. "I am blessed to do what I love and to share that by helping give a better quality of life to so many people that otherwise might not receive it."
The trip was made possible through a generous donation from the Greater New York Academy of Prosthodontics. For information on how to donate or volunteer for future trips, email Dr. Jonathan Zamzok, Founder of the not-for-profit Giving Through Smiles Foundation.