Team Dental’s Expanding Expertise Brings Smiles to Bolivia

October 19, 2023

Hundreds of patients in Bolivia are smiling brighter after a visit from Team Dental.

The team, who returned to Bolivia for the second year in a row, treated an amazing 255 patients during their five-day mission. The procedures included more than 150 dental hygiene procedures, 177 extractions, 273 fillings, 20 root canals, a dozen bone-grafting procedures and 15 dental implants.

On top of providing life-changing transformations to their patients, the scope of work represents how Team Dental itself has evolved over the years.

With the addition of Dr. Timothy Leung, an oral surgeon, the team was able to tackle more surgical cases than ever during their 2023 trip. Plus, they continued a mission to offer fully comprehensive treatment to every patient.

“When we first started doing these trips many years ago, we were only doing palliative treatment because most of these patients had little or no access to dental care. However, for the past four to five years, we have changed our approach, and focus more on the comprehensive treatment of our patient’s just as we would do in America,” said team leader Nilseh Patel, DDS.

This ongoing team growth has meant that some patients on Team Dental’s missions leave with not only a brighter smile, but an entirely new smile. Let’s take a look at some of these miraculous transformations:

Meet Fermin

As is the case with many patients in Bolivia, Fermin traveled from hours away to access dental care from the Operation International team.

The goat herder, who lives two hours away in the countryside of Bolivia, spent three days receiving comprehensive dental care at Team Dental’s clinic in Tarija. The team was able to give Fermin a fully functioning and aesthetic smile by the end of his treatment.

To show his gratitude, Fermin even offered to bring team leader Nilesh Patel a goat next time he visited Bolivia.

“We often take for granted the smaller things in life whereas in a place like Tarija and the people we are treating, it is actually a luxury to get a good cleaning, or a filling or a smile enhancement tooth replacement procedure,” Dr. Patel said. “The people here are truly appreciative of Operation International’s Dental Team being here from the bottom of their hearts.”

A Brand New Smile

One patient that the team will not soon forget was a 22-year-old woman with special needs who came to the clinic with multiple oral infections and legions.

The woman, who the team said was a joy to treat, ultimately had to lose all her teeth due to the infections. But, thanks to Operation International, she will have a fully-sponsored rehabilitation to ensure she has a functional smile.

The medical care provided by Operation International will avoid “so much pain and suffering for months on end” for the woman, team members noted.

Trusted Care

The last patient of Team Dental’s trip to Bolivia was a woman who had avoided treatment for years due to the cost of dental lab work.

The patient, who lived in the rural area of Tarija, had lost multiple teeth over the years. Thanks to Operation International, years of hesitation resulted in a fully-sponsored new smile.

“Dr. Amul Patel not only restored her entire mouth but also her self esteem and confidence,” Dr. Patel said