WESTFIELD, NJ – On a wall in the waiting room of his dental practice in town, Dr. Peter Louie displays a plaque commemorating the three days he recently spent in the Dominican Republic, donating 35 clinical hours of his time to repair teeth and restore smiles.
“It was just an amazing experience,” said Louie, now back at the Westfield Avenue office of The Laser Dental Group.
Working with the International Dental Implant Association, Louie traveled to the Dominican Republic with a team of about 20 dentists from around the United States in late May. He spent three days removing infected teeth, performing bone grafts and implanting new fixtures with the help of local dental assistants and students at a clinic about 30 minutes from the capital city of Santo Domingo.
He estimates that the group of dentists saw 300 to 400 patients over the three days at the clinic.
Louie, who lives in Westfield with his wife, Lillian, was impressed by how appreciative his patients were for the free dental work.
“They were lined up down the sidewalk, and when we walked in the clinic they were just clapping and cheering,” he said.
Louie noted that many of the patients he assisted worked in the country’s tourism industry, where bright, healthy smiles are beneficial to business.
Louie is a general dentist, but he became interested in studying the growing field of dental implants. He earned a fellowship in implants from the IDIA before he decided to volunteer with the group on the trip to the Dominican Republic.
The association’s president, Dr. Arun Garg, hails from the Dominican Republic and planned the trip to help the disadvantaged in his home country.
The trip took serious planning, and patients were pre-screened. The group transported about 60 suitcases filled with dental supplies with them to the Caribbean nation that shares an island with Haiti.
Louie, who also maintains an office in Union, aims to learn to more advanced dental surgeries and hopes to take more volunteer trips with the group in the future.
“I would do it again in a heartbeat,” he said