Rotarians help Peruvians smile

Dr. Bert Thacker from Smile Dental Surgery in Grand Cayman has just completed his third visit to Peru to treat children and adults who live in isolated villages along the Amazon, where there are no dentists.

He took a team from his surgery and all the equipment necessary to arrange four clinics in nine days.

The team saw over 350 patients.

Toothbrushes and oral hygiene are unheard of and their teeth are often in terrible condition.

Very often the only remedy to alleviate pain is to extract the teeth but on this trip they managed some preventive treatment as well.

Most patients were children younger than 14 and when they were done they treated the adults, some of whom had suffered toothache for years.

Getting to places like January 20th – the name of the settlement – is a challenge in itself. The party travels by air to Miami then on to Lima and Iquitos by air then by bus to Nauta and then a five-hour boat trip to arrive at a shanty building where they set up surgery. Youngsters line up for treatment and there is no such thing as a missed appointment – they will often shun anaesthetics because they have become used to the pain and are not used to the needle and the numbness it creates.

Dr. Bert is a Sunrise Rotarian and the club helps financially with the cost of the trip and often sends other members to help with the clinics.

Rotary Sunrise is made up mostly of young professionals and lawyers and accountants and others are soon trained to assist in the dentistry.

On this trip Rotarian David Reid, with his wife Kerry, looked after the sterilisation of all the instruments.

Tania Davies, who speaks fluent Spanish and Lana Kostich, wife of Dr. Bob Kostich, who will be leading a future trip were in the party.

Dr. Bert intends to organise two trips a year to Peru and possibly elsewhere to treat the children.

In Cayman he specialises in orthodontics at Smile, together with Dr. Kostich and Dr. Fred Koslowsky.