ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — A local group of dentists returned home to Anchorage this week after taking their skills to Vietnam to help children in need.
Alaska Premier Dental Group and the Libby Group partnered with the Smiles for Life Foundation to make the trip happen.
"Over the years, our office has been doing this for just over 15 years, and in that time, just this office, we've raised $222,000 to go toward Smiles for Life," Dr. Brian Kruchoski said. "The way it works is that we split the amount that we raise with the Crown Council and Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids foundation."
On this trip to Vietnam, the group provided extractions, cleanings, fillings, preventative work, and health education to children in underserved communities.
"There was a little girl, she couldn't have been more than twelve. She was sitting there and she had her hands over her mouth when I met her, and I was trying to get her to smile," Dr. Clark Bassham said. "Most of these kids had never seen a dentist. They didn't know why we were there really, but when she sat down in the chair beside me and she finally pulled her hands away, I saw a broken front tooth. Through the course of a few minutes, we bonded and rebuilt her front tooth, and she left that moment able to move her hands away, and able to smile."
They also worked alongside other dentists and volunteers through a program started by Dr. Charles "Fritz" Craft, a Cambodia-based dentist with deep ties to Alaska who worked to provide mobile dentistry units to rural outlying villages in Vietnam.
"We saw 799 children in four days, and we all worked our butts off," Dr. Joe Baggette said. "The heat index was 105 degrees, so very challenging conditions for us Alaskans, but boy, when you're doing great work and caring for people that don't have the ability to get it, yeah, we worked right through that heat."
The group has also made trips to Fiji, Peru, and the Dominican Republic.