Dentists Minister to Impoverished Kentucky Community

Post a Comment » Written on January 10th, 2008     
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MUSKEGON, MI (January 10, 2008) – Many people will do just about anything to avoid an appointment with the dentist, but the residents of an impoverished and isolated area in Kentucky eagerly welcome the visits of dental missionaries to the region, says Mark Gordon, a member of Forest Park Covenant Church.

Gordon is organizing a trip scheduled for March 29-April 2 to the Youth Haven Bible Camp in Beattyville, Kentucky, which is operated by Kentucky Mountain Mission. Free dental care will be provided over the course of three days in the camp’s gymnasium.

Dentists“We have plumbing mounted along the bleachers,” Gordon says. “We run temporary lines on the gym floor out to standard dental chairs. The dentists work along one side of the gym.” Hygienists work in another section.

“We have the major equipment in place, but we need professionals and medical supplies,” Gordon says. Dentists and hygienists need to bring their own instruments and any medications they feel might be needed.

Gordon has organized two previous trips and says another group from Virginia travels to the area every October. “Between us and the Virginia group, we are trying to provide dental care every six months,” he says. The accompanying photo is from a previous visit.

Extreme poverty, drug use and isolation lead to a great need for care, says Gordon, who is organizing the trip for the third consecutive year.

One dentist pulled 1,100 teeth during the first trip, Gordon says. Methamphetamine abuse is rampant in the area, and the drugs dry out the mouth, which encourages teeth to rot, he explains. “One beautiful 24-year-old woman was a recovering addict when we pulled all of her teeth – in one setting,” Gordon recalls. “This happened many times that week.”

Equal to the need is the desire for care. One 22-year-old man arrived at 9:15 a.m. and was the last to leave at 10:15 that night. “When he left, he had his teeth cleaned, six teeth pulled, and 12 teeth filled,” Gordon says. “He was almost carried out by his mom and sister – and he was very happy! Many times during the day he told us how blessed he was to be there. The dentists were determined to stay until he was taken care of.”

The mission trip also is designed to minister to needs beyond dental care. “Last year, my wife had the privilege of praying with a woman whose 23-year-old son had committed suicide on his birthday,” Gordon says. “The woman could not explain why she felt free to talk with my wife.  She said she was looked at with suspicion by everyone around her, and felt she could not talk with anyone she knew in the area.”

Gordon hopes that even workers who can’t stay for the entire time or can’t supply their own equipment still will consider participating. “I am confident that God will provide everything,” he says.

For more information, email Gordon.

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