I went to Los Encinitos, Honduras with Cape CARES for the first time, 12 years ago. The clinic is located in a remote mountainous area of Honduras, where people have no access to health care. Our mission was to provide team-centered dental and medical help for as many people as possible during our one-week visit. It was hard work and a life changing experience.
My wish was to go back again, but being a solo practitioner in a small family practice made it difficult until this year. I had another opportunity to make the trip to help our friends in Los Encinitos. I was with a group of very special individuals and one of the largest teams in Cape CARES history.
It is an experience that I will always remember. Children and adults from many different surrounding villages needed so much dental work, and they were willing to wait hours until it was their turn to receive treatment. My biggest shock and what saddened me the most, was seeing small children with such large cavities. Many had already lost some of their permanent teeth at such early age. Heartbroken but determined, we all worked long days to ensure that those who waited were treated.
Ricardo is 12 years old. He came to the clinic with his brother and father. Upon examination, I found tooth decay on all his upper front teeth, plus on all his back teeth. I was startled and undecided about where to start. It was not possible to address all his problems in one day. What should I do? Should I try to save his front teeth, so he can still smile? Or should I save his back teeth, so he can retain his chewing function? After consulting with my friend, I decided to save his front teeth in hope that he would be able to return during our visit. I placed seven fillings that day. Luckily, Ricardo and his father were able to come back two days later for me to repair some of his back teeth. I was so happy to see Ricardo back again in the clinic. He was in my chair for hours to receive treatment but did not complain once.
The work is so fulfilling and the local communities are so appreciative of the services we provide. The people I’ve met and the smiles I’ve helped, brings me such joy. Receiving big hugs after the treatment, was the best part.