Allan W. Stevenson, DDS General Dentist
www.trailridgefamilydental.com 205 W. Highway 95, Parma, ID 83660
It’s easy to forget how blessed we are to live in Idaho. Life is stressful and moves at a million miles an hour. Sometimes it takes a change of scenery and perspective to make you recognize how fortunate you are. Throughout my life, I’ve found that mission trips offer the perfect opportunity to travel, do some good, and come back with a renewed sense of gratitude and purpose. I have a very deep connection with the country of Guatemala. My first trip there was over 30 years ago. At the time, I was a young missionary with little experience of the world. The two years I spent in Guatemala were a formative experience that still resonates with me. So when I decided to do a dental mission in 2016, I instantly thought of Guatemala. That trip was such a success that I decided to bring two members of our team, Vernena and Shannell, along with me last year. It was such a great experience that we decided to share it with more people on our team. It also put into focus just how valuable dental care can be and how many people have to go without it. The trip was so inspiring that we’ve decided to make it an annual tradition for Trailridge Family Dental. This year, we traveled to Guatemala in early April and stayed there for over a week. On these trips, the vast majority of the work we do is emergency dentistry. When you have a dental issue, I’m guessing you visit the dentist as soon as possible. The people in the rural areas of Guatemala aren’t so lucky. They don’t have A Chance to Gain Perspective Our Annual Mission Trip
the tools or education necessary for excellent oral health. When somebody has tooth pain, an infection, or any other problem, they simply have to deal with the pain. Being able to provide locals relief is among the most rewarding things I get to do as a dentist. In a second, you get to alleviate pain and discomfort that a patient might have been dealing with for years. Of course, travelling to a less developed country than our own presents its own challenges. Most of the time, we’re set up in a facility that was never intended to be used for dentistry. We may not have our full suite of tools, but we do our best. In addition to providing life-changing services, we also spend time educating folks on proper hygiene. That’s where my Spanish skills come in handy. You can pull a tooth without exchanging any words, but making a connection with somebody and giving them tips to stay pain-free is just as valuable. When I became a dentist, it was with an eye toward making a meaningful difference in patients’ lives. Our mission trips provide ample opportunity to do this, but they also change my life in turn. After every trip — usually as I sit on the plane flying back home — I can’t help but feel super blessed. I’m blessed to be an American, to live in Idaho, and to have the chance to do something I love every single day. When life becomes stressful, I sometimes forget that gratitude. A trip to visit those less fortunate than myself is always the perfect reminder.
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