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New life for used equipment

Donations help dentists, charities and the environment

Dental practices buying new instruments, radiography equipment or entire dental units can dispose of or recycle old equipment, but they can also opt for donating gently used equipment to benefit others.

IMAGE: Dental units collected by World Dental Relief
Ready to ship: Dental units collected by World Dental Relief in Broken Arrow, Okla., are wrapped and ready for shipment to Ethiopia for use in a new dental school.

World of Smiles is an Erie, Pa.-based charitable nonprofit organization founded in April 2010. The goal of the organization, according to its website, “is to utilize dental supplies and equipment that would otherwise be discarded, and redistribute them to free dental clinics and not-for-profit dental professionals who are presently treating underprivileged patients at their expense.”

World of Smiles has a distribution center where dental supplies and equipment are collected, sorted and shipped to dental health care clinics and volunteer missions around the world, said Dr. Joel Waldman, director of development.

“The founders of World of Smiles have developed a way for dentists and dental companies to embrace green practices while helping people in need throughout the U.S. and even worldwide,” said Dr. Waldman. “There are literally millions of dollars worth of supplies and equipment that are being discarded each year, including dental suppliers’ and manufacturers’ overstock, irregularly packaged goods or short-dated material. Dentists in private practice who regularly update their equipment may be discarding perfectly usable items that could be used in clinics that are understocked and underequipped. Landfills are quickly filling up with products that can be reused and recycled for the greater good.”

World of Smiles gets wish lists of needed equipment and supplies from charitable organizations and matches and dispatches collected goods.

“Donors receive a tax deduction as well as the satisfaction of knowing their donation is also environmentally responsible, while helping to provide needed oral health to those in need,” he added.

World of Smiles also accepts monetary donations to help cover shipping costs. Donated items must be functional. For more information on how to donate equipment or funding or to become a dental equipment recipient, visit www.worldofsmiles.org.

In Broken Arrow, Okla., World Dental Relief Inc. receives and distributes in-date dental supplies and equipment to dental health care missions around the world.

World Dental Relief provides supplies to more than 400 short-term mission teams in 60 countries each year. The organization also works on a project-by-project basis, directed by dental professionals’ on-site needs, to equip requesting organizations that are setting up dental clinics.

Generally, World Dental Relief’s equipment distribution projects supply set-ups for small dental clinics—often only one chair for a village clinic. But right now, the organization is working with the Ethiopia Ministry of Health and Mekelle Arts and Sciences College in Northern Ethiopia to help establish a school for dental professionals, said Dr. Ron Lamb, president.

“Ethiopia, a country roughly the size of Texas, has a population of 85 million—and only about 90 dentists,” said Dr. Lamb. “For this project, we obtained 20 dental chairs and all the equipment and supplies they will need for the next three years, and packed it into a 40-foot semi-sized container. It was shipped early in June. It arrived last week and made it through customs and was delivered to the dental school site and unloaded.”

The school will begin with a two-year dental hygiene program. Thirty-five students now have completed a basic nursing program and 20 of them will be chosen for the first year class in the next few weeks.

World Dental Relief received a grant from the International College of Dentists to purchase instrument sets that they can rent to mission teams. Surgical, hygiene, restorative and ART, or atraumatic restorative treatment, instrument sets are often too expensive for mission organizations or private dentists who volunteer internationally to purchase.

Though World Dental Relief is not currently in need of dental equipment, the organization is seeking donations of dental instruction videos and DVDs that can be used at the dental school in Mekelle and at another school planned to launch in Uganda.

For more information on how to help, log on to www.worlddentalrelief.com.

IMAGE: Dr. Bernard Fialkoff and his daughter Meghan
Planning: Dr. Bernard Fialkoff and his daughter Meghan seek dental equipment and supply donations for a humanitarian dental mission to Cuba planned for early 2012.
Dental offices can also donate to support unique efforts like an upcoming mission trip to Cuba organized by a dentist in Queens, N.Y.

Dr. Bernard Fialkoff, a periodontist in the Bayside neighborhood in the borough of Queens, will lead 45 volunteer dentists from his Fialkoff Queens Dental Study Club on a mission trip in March of 2012 to Havana—the city where he was born and raised.

“I have yearned to return to the island to revisit the culture, the people and to give back through dentistry,” Dr. Fialkoff said.

Dr. Fialkoff’s parents emigrated from Russia during World War II but were unable to enter the U.S., so they settled in Cuba and remained there until they moved to the United States in the 1960s when Dr. Fialkoff was 10. He graduated from State University of New York at Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine and has practiced dentistry for 30 years.

The study club—which he founded some 20 years ago—draws members from all of New York’s five boroughs, Westchester and Long Island and sends invitations to dentists throughout New York and New Jersey. Between 60 and 125 dentists attend the monthly meetings.

Study club colleagues were supportive of Dr. Fialkoff’s idea when he pitched it at a meeting early this year. He proposed they provide pro bono care to citizens in need at the University of Havana Dental School and to offer study club sessions for Cuban dental professionals.

“For many years our study club has discussed going to Cuba,” Dr. Fialkoff said. “It was an idea we all had that we wanted to give back to the Cuban people and assist in dentistry where possible. Since July, we have done every step necessary in order to solidify a humanitarian dental trip to Cuba. It has been an exciting journey, and we look forward to fully finalizing our plans in the next few months.”

Dr. Fialkoff’s daughter Meghan, director for the trip, began researching similar mission trips to Cuba to learn the process of obtaining the proper permissions and a humanitarian license from the U.S. Treasury Department. She hopes to have the license and the volunteers’ visas lined up soon. The trip is tentatively planned for March 4-11, 2012, if the humanitarian license is approved on schedule.

Though the group has plenty of volunteers, and even a waiting list, the study club is in need of donations of portable units, portable drills and dental supplies for use during the trip. Supplies should be donated by Feb. 24, 2012.

To donate or to receive a list of needed supplies, contact Meghan Fialkoff at bernardfialkoffdds@gmail.com.

For information on humanitarian organizations that are working to improve the oral health of communities outside the U.S., visit the ADA International Volunteer Web page http://internationalvolunteer.ada.org or call the ADA Division of Global Affairs, Ext. 2726.