DENVER (CBS4) – Two women in Colorado are taking dental care global, focusing on children in countries where access is limited. Kim Troggio and Laurie Mathews started the nonprofit Global Dental Relief nearly 20 years ago.
“We started small. The very first project we did was at 14,000 feet along the Everest trail. We loaded our equipment on the back of yaks. We knew nothing about dentistry,” Troggio said.
What the pair did know was there was a need.
“If they don’t have access to care, they have an infection in their mouth. It starts small, but overtime it grows and these kids just live with chronic pain and infection,” she said.
They also knew if they had the right people, it was a need they could meet.
“Each one of the projects is comprised of five or so dentists and two hygienists, and then we take 10, what we call non-dental volunteers,” she said.
For spring break, 16-year-old Will Kotowski and his dad Tim signed up to help on a trip to Guatemala.
“My dad and I, we are not dentists,” Will said.
It did not stop them from having plenty to do, from fluoride application and handing out toothbrushes to assisting dentists as they work.
“I was a chairside assistant. I have no dental experience other than being in a dental chair,” Tim Kotowski said. “I got to see her interact with the kids and she did everything from fluoride to extraction to cavities.”
Troggio says it is those volunteers who don’t have experience, but do have a strong desire to help, who make their mission a success.
“Volunteers just have to come with a heart to work,” she said.
If you are interested in volunteering you can find an application and more information about cost as while as their next project on their website.