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Utah couple sees the world while volunteering with Global Dental Relief

Nonprofit founded in 2001 with mission of bringing dental care to children around globe

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Happy trio: Mike Lorscheider, D.D.S., and his wife Carol Ann smile after a successful treatment with a Guatemalan boy during a Global Dental Relief mission in 2023.

Mike Lorscheider, D.D.S., admitted he did everything he could to not serve in the Vietnam War.

He finds it ironic that he now looks forward to going there.

The Provo, Utah-based dentist is a volunteer with Global Dental Relief, a nonprofit founded in 2001 with a mission of bringing free dental care to children around the globe.

Teams of dentists, hygienists, assistants and volunteers deliver treatment and preventive care in dental clinics that serve children in schools and remote villages, as well as deliver toothbrushes and oral health education in schools between clinics and providing critical nutrition to children in high-need situations.

Since its inception in 2001, Global Dental Relief has provided more than 200,000 children free dental care in eight countries.

Dr. Lorscheider, an ADA member since 1977, and his wife Carol Ann have been volunteering their time and expertise in charity dental clinics around the world for many years, with two international trips in 2023 alone: Guatemala and Mexico.

“I guess I can sum up the experiences as really one of the most fulfilling things I have done in my life,” said Dr. Lorscheider. “If you are thinking of volunteering, just take the plunge. You won’t regret it; you get back so much more than you give.”

The couple volunteered in Guatemala in late March, around the time the area was abustle with parades and festivities in preparation for Semana Santa, one of the largest holidays of the year for Guatemalans.

Many people visit during that time to observe the unique celebrations and some of the largest Easter processions in the world, but Dr. Lorscheider and Carol Ann had another plan in mind.

“Guatemala struggles with a severe dental crisis, especially among children,” said Kim Troggio, founder and executive director of Global Dental Relief. “According to the World Health Organization, dental caries isrampant, affecting over 82% of the population. The lack of access to a dentist exacerbates the situation, as most rural areas have little or no dental services. The consequences of untreated oral health disease leads to pain, impaired nutrition and hindered educational outcomes for these children. In a world where access to dental care is a privilege, the efforts of volunteers like Dr. Mike and Carol Ann provide a ray of hope, smiles and a healthier future to children in Guatemala.”

The two worked alongside 16 volunteers, including five other dentists, two hygienists and nine general volunteers. Together they worked for a week in a field clinic in historic Ciudad Vieja, formerly the colonial capital of the country.

Global Dental Relief provided all the equipment and supplies and set up the clinic, so volunteers were able to arrive and get straight to work.

Children from the region arrived at the clinic by the hundreds, walking many miles or hopping a ride on one of the colorful “chicken buses” — generally old school buses from the U.S. that now act as public transport in other countries.

The children were filled with nervous excitement, but most of all the feeling of gratitude in the clinic was palpable, Ms. Troggio said.

Over the course of the week, the Lorscheiders and their fellow volunteers provided comprehensive dental care to 749 children, most of whom had never seen a dentist before.

The camaraderie the volunteers experience always strikes her, Ms. Lorscheider said.

“You really make the best of friends on these trips, and you can bring your kids and even your grandkids to work alongside you in the clinic,” she said. “It’s an amazing way to see the world while also doing something truly meaningful to improve the health of children.”

Dr. Lorscheider said they feel blessed with their lives.

“We realize dentistry provided us a good living, and feel it was now time to give back to those less fortunate,” he said.

As for the future, Dr. Lorscheider and his wife said they are uncertain.

“I’ve had three back fusions and as long as I don’t have too much discomfort, we’ll still head out,” he said.

For more information on Global Dental Relief, including how you can volunteer, email info@globaldentalrelief.org, call 303-858-8857 or visit globaldentalrelief.org

To learn more about other international volunteer opportunities, visit internationalvolunteer.ADA.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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