Global Dental Relief clinics provide a unique opportunity for dental students to gain hands-on experience in their chosen career field. Each project allows students the opportunity to witness the power of restoring the smile of a child, while gaining invaluable experience in the dental field.
With the help of a generous donor, Global Dental Relief offers a Women in Dentistry Scholarship to provide opportunities for women in communities of color who are pursuing their passion of dentistry! We recently celebrated the first Women in Dentistry scholar on her trip to Antigua, Guatemala with Global Dental Relief. Read on to hear about Sarah Espinoza’s incredible experience serving the children of Ciudad Vieja with a team of dental professionals and general volunteers.
Sarah, can you describe your experience working in the clinic?
My experience working in the clinic was no easy task, but it was certainly a rewarding one. I was given the opportunity to assist Dr. Darshani Khosla to provide much-needed dental treatment to the children of Guatemala. Every morning my roommate, Dr. Soorya Gakhar, and I would wake up at 7:00AM and have breakfast with the GDR team before shuttling out to the clinic by 8:15AM.
On arrival at the clinic, we were greeted by excited children lined up to receive their dental treatment. The sight of their smiles running from ear-to-ear melted my heart each and every day. As a Spanish-speaker, being able to communicate to the children and their parents in their native language was a priceless advantage. I was able to comfort children and their parents by explaining exactly what was going to be done; whether it was a cleaning, a filling, or an extraction. At the end of every treatment, I was able to go over the oral health education, which I believe was the most valuable part of the day. These interactions with the children were incredibly wholesome and certainly something that I will never forget.
What was your favorite part about volunteering with Global Dental Relief?
My favorite part about volunteering with Global Dental Relief was being surrounded with so many like-minded individuals who are passionate about serving the underserved. Through this experience, I was able to make amazing friends and learn what it means to be a confident and competent dentist.
Did you learn anything new or different through your volunteer experience
with GDR? How will that experience be applied to your future career as a dentist?
Through my experience with Global Dental Relief, I was able to assist placing amalgam fillings for the very first time! It was very interesting to see how cost-effective this material is and how successful the restorations can be when placed properly. This has shown me that in dentistry there are so many materials and alternative options for treatments that may be more affordable or attainable for certain populations.
How did this opportunity impact your decision to pursue a career in dentistry?
This opportunity has only further solidified my decision to pursue a career in dentistry. I was able to see first-hand how collaborative dentistry can be and that is something that I truly admire about this field. Additionally, it was great to see how thankful the patients and families were at the end of each procedure. This experience has given me a taste of the instant gratification that comes with being an oral health care provider. Lastly, this opportunity has influenced me to practice dentistry in an area that truly needs it. When I become a dentist, I will continue helping low-income areas receive the oral health care that they need and deserve.
If you could say anything to the next Women in Dentistry Scholar, what would it be?
To the next Women in Dentistry Scholar, I would say go into this experience open-minded and don’t forget to have fun! I went into this trip without knowing a single person and I could not be any happier with the growth that I have seen within myself. I met the most wonderful group of individuals and learned so much from every person along the way. Also don’t forget that it is okay to ask questions, this is your time to do so!
Thank you Global Dental Relief for this opportunity!