We've asked the dentists who traveled on the Smile Brands sponsored trip to Thailand in May 2012 to share their stories. This story is from Dr. Karen Martinez, a lead dentist for Norwalk/Rosecrans dental office and Market Dental Director for Bright Now! Dental South Los Angeles market.
"When I began this mission, I went with the notion that I wanted to experience change. I wanted to see and experience another world. I wanted to give my time to helping others and help them change their oral health. I went on this mission with an open mind and open heart. As Steve Bilt stated before we embarked in this journey “go with an open mind and the journey will happen.” That is what I did. I was there to serve a purpose, and that was to give some of my experience to the people of Thailand.
The great thing is that I thought that I was going there to help and in turn the experience and the people gave me more than what I did for them. I left feeling very humbled that these children and parents put so much trust in me and the team that they would allow us to work on them without questions or even understanding what was being done to them. The children are so resilient and so strong that in some of these villages they would just open their mouths and never complain of pain even during treatment.
I left with love for the country of Thailand and for its people. I have so much respect for those villages that work so hard and never complain, yet receive so little. I left with a set of great new friends and a feeling of pride for the Smile Brands family company that I represent. I’m proud that Smile Brands has opened its hearts to helping those less fortunate. The time and amount of work that it took to plan this mission is remarkable.
The most touching experience that I had was from a six-year-old boy who had been on antibiotics for six months due to a large abscess on the lower right side. This village does not get any dental help. An American couple had been helping with doing some extractions, but they could not get the boy to cooperate. The couple brought this boy over to me to help them take this tooth out. I was able to remove not only that tooth but also the adjacent tooth that was badly decayed. After the extraction, Steve gave him a soccer ball and before he left he was already running around playing as though nothing was done." Dr. Karen Martinez