Kool Smiles’ Drs. Joanne Tsagas, Leonard Johnson, and Tiffany Nightengale recently went on a medical mission trip to Rangrayo, Peru where they provided dental care to the residents of a local village that has limited access to medical care. The trip was sponsored by the Benevis Foundation, in partnership with CHOICE Humanitarian, and is part of Kool Smiles’ “Kool Doctors Giving Back” initiative. Dr. Tsagas kept a journal about her experiences during the trip and was kind enough to share her stories with us. Read on to learn about her experience:
During their time in Rangrayo, Dr. Tsagas and her colleagues conducted dozens of dental examinations, extractions, and restorative procedures on patients of all ages. The dentists also gave demonstrations to school children about the importance of good oral hygiene and took part in a “Days for Girls” lecture with the CHOICE Humanitarian team whose mission was to teach girls self-esteem so they can be empowered to make critical decisions about their health.
“Patients came to my table, sat down for anesthesia and extractions, and left grateful for the service we provided. I felt good that I could help them, but at the same time, I felt helpless, because I wish I could do more,” Dr. Tsagas wrote. “I wish I could’ve done a root canal, post, core, and crown to save their permanent teeth, or to have been able t do a denture for them, to restore those teeth I took out. These procedures would have been limited by lab work, so, unfortunately, there was nothing more we could’ve done. I just hoped that my tiny contribution may have made a world of difference to someone with pain.”
Upon returning home to Roxbury, Massachussetts, Dr. Tsagas took some time to reflect on the trip and how it helped her become a better person.
“This was one of the most, if not the most, life changing trips I have ever taken in my life. Based on my experiences and my relationships with my fellow CHOICE Humanitarian group members and the villagers, I can honestly say that this trip has shaped my outlook on life and on humanity. I also feel as though it has made me into a more empathetic human being and practitioner.”
To learn more about the Peru mission trip, please visit the Kool Smiles Gives Back page!