Sullivan dentist provides free care to patients while practicing techniques in overseas trip
Photo by HAROLD BOSSTICK
Neil Smith holds up a dental implant similar to those he worked with while performing surgery in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, in January. He traveled to the country as part of an externship following training he received through Implant Seminars.
For most, a trip to the Caribbean is usually for fun, but local dentist Neil Smith instead helped patients who otherwise couldn't afford dental surgery as part of an externship.
“Just in general being able to help people that aren’t able to get the dental care that they need, that’s the big thing” Smith, one of the practitioners at Sullivan Family Dentistry, said of his experience. “I like to be able to provide for people who can’t provide for themselves.”
The training and externship in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, were offered through Implant Seminars, a program operated by Arun Garg.
“They were all very low-income individuals and people who didn’t really have a lot of dental care up until recently ...” Smith said of his patients on the trip. “So these are patients that wouldn’t be able to afford the dental treatment.”
The four-day trip started with orientation and, shortly thereafter, diagnosis of patients’ ailments and surgeries — with Smith working about 12 hours each day.
“I don’t think I was off my feet once during that time,” he said.
The surgeries involved drilling holes to implant dental devices and grafts — most of which are no bigger than a tooth root, barely a quarter inch in size.
“All that I did while I was there was bone grafting — or socket preservation is another word for that — or actually placing the dental implant,” he said. “There were more complex procedures that were going on as well.”
Smith added that he has brought the techniques he learned and practiced back to Sullivan.
“We’ve actually incorporated the dental implants and ridge augmentation into our practice here,” he said. “That’s a procedure we’re offering here at the office.”
And he plans to go back with this group for future programs.
“I would like to go back in the future and expand on the skills that I learned there,” Smith said.