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Smiles of Hope

A Canadian dental team has put a smile on kids’ faces thanks to a humanitarian mission to Jalapa, Guatemala. In the developing world, dental care is often rare or inaccessible. Guatemala is one of those countries where many have little access to dental care.

Recently, Dr. Tom Pekar, a local Niagara dentist, together with a group of volunteers from across Canada, returned from a humanitarian dental mission to Guatemala.

Makeshift clinics were set up in the village schools. One member of the mission was local dentist, Dr. Tom Pekar, who was deeply affected by the experience.

“The day began at sunrise when the sun lit the rooms. We opened the doors to hundreds of elementary children who were bussed in from the surrounding villages. The team tried to provide basic care to every child. The hygienists looked after the cleaning, while the dentists dealt with the more acute cases. Over the course of four days, 712 patients were triaged, 591 abscessed teeth were removed, 290 fillings were completed, and many hopeless smiles restored. The last child was seen when the batteries in the flashlights died. I’ve never worked so hard in my life, but I can’t begin to express how fulfilling it was—the fact that we helped so many families left me feeling like the lucky one. Knowing that so many children were now pain free and the mothers could finally get a night’s sleep was well worth the effort,” said Dr. Pekar.

Dr. Pekar has begun a fundraising campaign within his clinic to raise money for the next expedition. “We couldn’t get to every child and it was heart-wrenching having to turn kids away at the end of the day. That is why I am determined to raise enough money to return again next year.

Dr. Tom Pekar challenges anyone to join him with this fundraising campaign to continue to improve the oral health and quality of life for those in less fortunate countries.

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