By Kara Faulk

Saving 600 Smiles

  |  Local News - Rockland County  


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Dentists and dental hygeenists of Rockland Pediatric Dental in New City partnered with Ecuadent and traveled to Ecuador to provide dental care to more than 600 needy children.

Five staff members from New City’s Rockland Pediatric Dental took a trip to Ecuador in early October to help children in need. Ralph Berk, D.D.S., was accompanied by his wife, Cherie Berk; pediatric dentist Karan Estwich, D.D.S.; dental hygienist Linda Driscoll; and dental assistant Delvina Caviness. They completed the 18-member group, composed of dental workers from across the U.S. and Canada, that brought dental care and hygiene to more than 600 Ecuadorian children in just one week.

Rockland Pediatric Dental in Ecuador
Cherie Berk (right) and several of the young patients the Rockland Pediatric Dental team treated in Ecuador. Courtesy Cherie Berk

Ecuadent Foundation, a nonprofit organization, brought the dental workers together and arranged for them to meet in Miami and fly into Ecuador as a team.

“One of the greatest things about the work is that a team of strangers [is] working toward the same cause with the common goal of seeing as many people as possible and getting them quality care,” Cherie Berk says.

While the Rockland Dental team and its community raised money for toothbrushes, toothpaste, and educational information, the Ecuadorian Navy provided needy patients; Fortune Practice Management provided time, money, and services; and Ecuadorian dental students helped with language translation. “It was such a team effort,” says Dr. Berk, an Ecuadent team member. This was his staff’s second trip to Ecuador with the organization.

Some of these kids have been in pain for days, months, even years, and didn’t even realize it until they were helped, Cherie Berk says. “They are immediately better, and the relief is evident on their faces. This will be the one and only dental experience that many of these children experience in [their] entire life,” she says.

Dr. Berk says that at the end of the day, when the workers were exhausted and in obvious need of rest, the Ecuadorian mothers would stop in to give each staff member a hug, repeatedly thanking them for their services. “This is the moment when it all becomes worth your while,” he says, “and you immediately know that you’re meant to be here.”

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