Rutgers Dental Students Make a World of Difference

In La Romana, Dominican Republic, Dr. Jim Hudson has been working to save smiles and improve children’s oral health since 2010. In 2016, he founded World of Smiles to formally continue the support, focusing specifically on children in the area to make a real difference for their long-term oral and overall health.

This year, Dr. Herminio Perez and his students from Rutgers School of Dental Medicine teamed up with World of Smiles.

Read Dr. Perez’s perspective on the outreach trip to the Dominican Republic, and why this was such an important experience for his students.

Last year, I received an invitation from Dr. James Hudson, founder of World of Smiles, to participate with our dental students in a special outreach program in the Dominican Republic. After learning about all the good work that Dr. Hudson and his team were doing there, I got on board.

Dr. Perez, instructor and Director of Student & Multicultural Affairs at Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, and Dr. Hudson, Founder of World of Smiles, treat children in La Romana, DR

On April 2, 2017, the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine team arrived to Campo Nueva Esperanza in La Romana, and for six days we joined forces with World of Smiles. Together, the team of 13 oral care providers offered treatment to children from various school system under Fundacion MIR, and also provided care to the children in the surrounding orphanages.

The team was comprised of general dentists, oral surgeons, endodontists, aesthetics dentists, and the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine students under my supervision. During the trip, our team treated about 400 children, and my four students performed about 170 dental procedures in just four working days.

Providing the chance to dental students to be part of an outreach program with an outstanding group of dental professionals under the leadership of Dr. Hudson was a unique opportunity.

The students who I brought with me were all in their third year and met qualifications for academic and clinical performance, as well as expressed their interest and intent to go on the outreach trip in an essay. Two of the students spoke Spanish, and two did not, which encouraged them to work together as a team while in La Romana.

I know this is an experience that they will value for the rest of their professional careers. In addition, these activities nurtured the humanistic aspect of any health care profession, fostering compassion, teamwork, and understanding of the real value that health care professionals can provide to those in need.

Dr. Perez and Rutgers dental students

Dr. Hudson is an amazing person, and I can see that he will be a great model for our dental students at Rutgers. Dr. Hudson and World of Smiles gave them a look at what kinds of opportunities lie beyond dental school, and World of Smiles is an exemplary program for students to learn about ethical, safe, and truly effective global dental outreach. This trip will be something that they’ll remember forever.

The World of Smiles and Rutgers Dental team

Hear more from Dr. Perez, his students, and Dr. Hudson in the video below.

Herminio Perez, DMD, MBA, is an instructor and Director of Student & Multicultural Affairs at Rutgers School of Dental Medicine.

Dr. Perez, Dr. Hudson, and the team from World of Smiles were supported by the Henry Schein Cares Foundation Health Kit Outreach Program. Dr. Perez also gives his special thanks to Michele Penrose from Henry Schein for her help with the donation. The Rutgers students were also supported by the International College of Dentists, and the clinic in La Romana was constructed this year thanks to the West Palm Beach Rotary club.