Drs. Ron and Jerhet Ask from Jackson Creek Dental Group, along with Dr. Lawryn Ask and their families, recently returned from a mission trip to Kenya where they performed general dentistry on over 400 Maasai people and other local residents. “Our days began with a crowd of people at the door waiting to be triaged outside with flashlights, and we always took those that were in pain first. Some of them had walked 10-20 miles on washed out dirt roads and some came 60 miles by motorcycle, and they might have waited all day to be seen,” stated Ron Ask, DDS.
The Maasai Dental Clinic in Siana Spring was opened in 2009 by Dr. Raymond Damazo of Bellevue, Washington. It is a modern, three-chair clinic run on solar panels and batteries with an apartment upstairs to house volunteer dentists and their families. The clinic is located right in the heart of the Mara, home to more than 50,000 and in a location giving access to one of the most underserved communities in the world, free of charge. Most of these families raise and herd cattle, sheep and goats and sell their animals at the market.
On this visit the doctors typically saw 10-25 patients each day. Of those, about two thirds were treated for extractions and the remaining received preventative, restorative and cosmetic dentistry. The most common complaint was pain.
The Maasai people are an elegant, attractive and proud people. They are aware of the importance that a beautiful smile will have on their lives and will walk hours across the muddy, dirt roads, in the middle of rainstorms to come to the clinic when the volunteer dentists are in town. These families may have 9-10 children and there may be multiple wives. “The Maasai people have the same basic needs and wants that we do, and came to us to receive a pretty smile, be able to eat and get out of pain,” said Ron.
The team also drove over 5 hours to an outlying area where they did mostly extractions for those in pain and screened people to come back to the clinic for other dental needs.
“The majority of the patients didn’t speak English, so it was wonderful to have the clinic manager and assistant there to help out with translations,” reported Jerhet Ask, DDS. “We saw a lot of discoloration and malformation of the teeth from too much natural fluoride in the drinking water, so we did a lot of composites and bonding. It was awesome to help the Massai people feel better about themselves and set out on the road to good dental health.”
Although they worked M-F from 8 to 5 (or longer), one of the perks of volunteering there was the weekend safari drives through the Sekenani Gate of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve provided by the clinic manager, William. The Massai Mara Game Reserve (in Kenya) is contiguous with the Serengeti Game Reserve (in Tanzania). Animals have a circular migration pattern within these reserves known as “The Great Migration” and some 2 million animals make this migration every fall. The Asks said they were amazed at the diversity of large animals that they saw living in the same area: lions, hippos, rhinos, elephants, giraffes, wildebeests, cheetahs, and spotted hyenas.
The dentists at Jackson Creek Dental Group have been on many mission trips providing free dentistry in some of the poorest areas of the world. These include trips to Armenia, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Costa Rica and Africa. They also host Smiles for Kids each year, providing free dentistry to the kids right here in Amador County who do not have access to dental care.
Jackson Creek Dental Group offers a full range of advanced, comprehensive dental specialties, from general care, periodontal care, dental implants and orthodontics to cosmetic dentistry, smile design and full mouth reconstruction. Jackson Creek Dental Group is open Monday through Thursday, 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. For more information contact us at (209) 223-2712 or visit our website at www.JacksonCreekDental.com.
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