We’ve asked the dentists who traveled on the Smile Brands sponsored trip to Thailand in May 2012 to share their stories. Here is today’s, from Dr. Robert Chidester, lead dentist for Monarch Dental in Sandy, Utah.
"I first went to Thailand over 35 years ago. I had the wonderful opportunity to live there and learn the Thai language. I developed a deep love for Thailand, Thai people and their culture. My wife is from Thailand and we have had the opportunity to return there multiple times.
When I heard that Seal Team II was going to Thailand I was excited because I felt I could bean asset for the project, considering my background. Thailand is very important to my family. It is part of my children’s heritage. I wanted to represent my wife and children on this mission to Thailand.
The trip was fantastic. We had an amazing group of people willing to work hard and provide dental care to many needy patients in Thailand. The support group and volunteers in Thailand were also amazing. Part of the satisfaction I gained was seeing our group enjoy Thailand, its people and its culture.
I think my greatest overall impression was just how good all of our patients were. Many of these children have nothing, have never been to the dentist before and had serious dental problems. Even though they were scared, they were always super cooperative and would show gratitude when we were finished.
I had one patient, a nine year old girl, at Ruammit on the fourth day who had five large cavities on her front teeth. If these were not restored at this time she would likely soon lose the teeth, as there wouldn’t be much chance for root canal therapy to save them. She was very scared, but allowed us to complete the five fillings as well as remove one badly decayed molar. When we finished I told her how brave she was to help us do the dental work. She proudly smiled and told us it was her first time to see the dentist.
I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to serve in Thailand with Smile Brands Inc. I am proud of the example and hard work of my fellow Seal Team II members. It was a privilege to accompany them on this trip.
I am humbled by our patients, their needs, and our opportunity to provide some help. It was an unforgettable journey which I believe will have a lasting effect as we continue to return to Thailand and work with local Thai dentists to provide dental care to underserved people in Thailand." Dr. Robert Chidester