The inspiring story of 6 dentists changing lives in Dera, Ethiopia

6 dentists and 937 extractions later a village in Ethiopia can smile a little brighter.

Dr. Micah Mortensen, one of the wonderful dentists Dental City works with, along with five others, travelled with friends and family (who learned to provide dental assisting specifically for this trip) to Dera, Ethiopia in partnership with the non-profit organization Hope Arising to give dental care to some of the city’s 26,000 citizens.

dentist-1They each packed a personal bag and a bag of donated dental supplies
—including some from yours truly—and landed in Dera March 25
to begin their 10-day mission trip in the city.

Dera faces many struggles as its citizens often must make do with minimal resources and limited access to proper healthcare services. But, fortunately, Hope Arising has grown to become a dedicated advocate for the region, from aiding with healthcare, to helping bring sustainable water sources, and teaching marketable skills that citizens can use to become independently employed.

And for Dr. Mortensen it certainly was an inspiring trip—he says, “They [Hope Arising] have a really good thing going—they make sure these people don’t get left by the wayside.”

During their time there these dentists and their helpers offered relief from pain caused by dental issues—most notably through extractions.

Dr. Mortensen tells us how they worked with local translators and “hand signal negotiations” to learn how best to treat their patients. “We would hold up different numbers of fingers to figure out how many teeth they wanted removed. We’re try to do as much as possible—so even if a tooth wasn’t hurting now we’d take it out before it started hurting six months down the road.”

The group also traveled to local schools to place sealants in hopes of lessening the dental issues children would have in the future.

And as for Dr. Mortensen’s thoughts on going on a similar trip? “Definitely,” he says, “I plan on going again next year or the year after.”