Dr. Bosler has a heart for humanitarian work. In October of each year, Dr. Bosler directs a team of top dentists and heads to Beijing, China for ten days on a humanitarian trip to help the orphans. Dr. Bosler also was honored to be chosen to teach Chinese doctors at the dental clinic in Beijing how to do bone grafting, implants and root canals.
Please read the article below, published in the California Academy for General Dentistry Magazine in Oct 2013.
California Dentist Travels to Chinese School for Mentally Challenged Children
Humanitarian / Teaching Visit to Guilin
Author: Bruce Bosler, DDS, FAGD, Vacaville
Nestled amongst karst mountains in southern China is the city of Guilin. It is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The Li River winds through miles of vertical emerald mountains. Night fisherman, standing on bamboo rafts, fish using cormorant birds by the light of hanging lanterns.
The Affiliate Hospital of Guilin Medical University’s Department of Stomatology hosted our team of dentists and support auxiliaries to treat the local underserved population and to offer evening instruction on new dental techniques and dental materials.
Our team numbered twenty-two; seven dentists (four of whom spoke Chinese), one optometrist, two nurses, two hygienists, a videographer and nine other support staff. Our team represented six different states in the USA: California, Alaska, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New York, and Utah. AGD members included Karl Koerner, DDS; Scott Stucki, DDS; Josh Davidson, DDS; Newell Walther, DDS; Kenneth Wong, DDS, MAGD; Yin Hsu, DMD, MPH, FAGD; and myself, Bruce Bosler, DDS, FAGD
Over the years, Dr. Karl Koerner, an AGD member and practicing dentist from Utah, has organized multiple such humanitarian trips to China. He is a popular speaker on Oral Surgery and finds potential humanitarian participants wherever he travels. He lectured to our CAGD MasterTrack group this past April. During his presentation, he included a few pictures of China and spoke some Chinese. That hooked me and I was ready to go! It was something I’ve always wanted to do.
In October, we all met for the first time at the Los Angeles Airport. After three flights, four security checks, customs, nineteen hours of total flight time, and losing a full day lost over the international date line, we arrived at the Jing Tong Hotel, two days later, just in time to eat and go to bed.
Monday through Friday, we saw patients in a very nice clinic. In the evening, we lectured to the dental staff and students. Ultradent provided a PowerPoint presentation to help teach their technique of root canal preparation and obturation. They were generous enough to supply nearly all of our restorative and endodontic supplies. I also found this an excellent opportunity to share my MAGD MasterTrack PowerPoint cases with them.
Dr. Hsu, a participating dentist from Boston, shares this experience: “A mother brought her nine-year-old cerebral palsy son to see me for the second time. He was grateful (I had filled his painful teeth on the right side last year). He waited eighteen months to see us, the ‘American dentists,’ again! I realized that we could make a difference.” Lorrie Belcher, a nurse-anesthetist with our group, shares this uplifting story: “One experience I had was when I went out into the country with the optometrist and fit glasses for the elderly, these sweet Chinese farmers and wives came in bent and worn; hands and faces etched with years of labor.
We fit them with something so simple as reader’s glasses and gave them the newspaper to read. Their weary faces brightened up with huge smiles as they read for the first time in years. It was such an uplifting experience.”I personally saw a young single mother who couldn’t afford root canals to save two of her molars. Much of her income went to medical expenses for her adopted son suffering with a chronic blood disease. Her expressed gratitude for saving those two molars made my entire visit worthwhile.
One afternoon, part of our group visited a very progressive school for children with Down’s syndrome. About 100 children sat patiently and respectfully waiting for us to arrive. We brought them gifts from America and they returned gifts to us made by their own hands. Our hygienist demonstrated proper brushing and flossing technique. I led them in a popular Chinese folk song, “Mwo Li Hua” which I had learned many years before as a missionary in Taiwan. Visiting those children was the emotional highlight of my trip.
When we left China, we left new friends and brought home memories we will always cherish.
Activity on the Li River
Our host, Dr. Liang, confers with Dr. Davidson
Dental students and doctors look on as Dr. Bosler talks to a patient prior to an endodontic procedure.
Dr. Bosler examines a young teenage patient.
Dr. Davidson demonstrates restorative procedures.
This single mother adopted this little boy, fully aware he required monthly blood transfusions. Heavy medical expenses precluded her from receiving outside dental care.
This little boy had an external cutaneous draining fistula from a badly infected lower left 1st molar which had been present for months.
Dr. Tsai and Dr. Davidson consulting.
Dr. Bosler shares his knowledge with staff at the 27 Guilin Dental Hospital in the evening after having treated patients all day.
Labor of Love
beyond the border
As recently as June 2012, Dr Bosler and a team of dentists headed for Nuevo Casas Grandes, a small Mexican town about 100 miles south of the border, to provide dental services at a school for handicapped children. Other medical services include optometry and a surgical suite for cleft lip procedures.
Author: Bruce Bosler D.D.S.
It had been decades since I last saw Lee. Not since high school. I knew he was a dentist in Seattle, but that’s about all. Imagine my surprise when he called me out of the blue and invited me to go to Mexico with him to give dental care to the poor. I was onboard from the start. I asked my daughter, Kaitlin, to come with me to assist. Our excitement of the impending adventure was overshadowed by the news reports of the drug cartel violence in the border cities.
The U.S. State Department advised against travel there, and all my friends asked if I had heard the news on TV. Even the U.S. military had recently declared Mexico off limits to all military personnel. We arrived by plane in El Paso, Texas, and then joined several other doctors in a large passenger van. It was great to see Lee again and meet the other participants and feel the generated excitement about our trip. But the lighthearted banter quieted as we approached the Mexican border. It was clear that even our host himself who held dual U.S./Mexican citizenship felt unsure of what to expect at the border crossing. “Don’t offer any information and speak only if questioned. Keep a low profile,” we were cautioned.
Four dentists and eight support personnel made up our humanitarian team. We were headed for Nuevo Casas Grandes, a small Mexican town about 100 miles south of the border, to provide dental services at a school for handicapped children. In our bags were dental instruments and boxes of local anesthetics labeled, lidocaine, septocaine and carbocaine…words that sound all too similar to “cocaine.” Any machine gun-toting border guard who was not familiar with dental anesthetics could easily complicate our lives in a real hurry.
Fortunately, we made it past not only the border guards but a military checkpoint as well without incident. It was free sailing the rest of the way across the high desert in this sparsely populated northwestern corner of the state of Chihuahua, Mexico.
The dental clinic at the “LaGaviota” school has four dental chairs and is surprisingly well stocked with supplies. Teams of dentists like ours visit from the U.S. about once a month donating supplies and equipment as they come. Other medical services include optometry and a surgical suite for cleft lip and club foot procedures.
We were scheduled to see patients Thursday and Friday. Each were 10 hour days. We had translators available but often Kaitlin and I tried out what little Spanish we already knew. Kaitlin kept busy sterilizing instruments and assisting me with the patients.
Our favorite little patient was Esmeralda who was nine years old with big brown eyes. She asked if we could make her two front teeth pretty. Little Esmeralda had brown mottled enamel from extreme fluorosis caused by high levels of fluoride in the local well from which they got their drinking water. She held Kaitlin’s hand for reassurance as her family members gathered around to watch me veneer her front teeth with composite bonding. When finished, we gave her a mirror and watched her face light up with joy at the first sight of her new white teeth. She said, “Thank you” in English and bolted out of the chair.
Most of the dental work we provided was extractions and fillings. Anything restorative like partials and bridges would have to be acquired elsewhere.
Our second day in the clinic was a surprise to me. The entire day was scheduled with Mennonite families. These families had lived here for generations. They are of European descent and speak Dutch. The men also speak Spanish and English.
Mennonite women and girls dress in 1800’s period attire. Their dresses were long with long sleeves and high necklines. They don’t wear make-up and they covered their heads with a bonnet. It was like they were in costume for a play – but it was no show. That’s what they have worn for generations. Who would expect to find a community of Mennonites living for generations peacefully side-by-side with the locals in this thinly populated high desert of Mexico? Imagine my additional surprise to learn that just 12 miles away is an old American Mormon colony founded in the late 1880’s by polygamist Mormon families from Utah. Today it is called Colonia Juarez and polygamy is no longer practiced.
These families still have strong ties with family in Arizona and Utah. Many prominent Mormon families have come from this tiny colony. One of the more widely known names is Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and former presidential candidate. His father, George Romney, also a former governor of Michigan, was born there.Our host Ed and Gayle Whetton live there, too. They raised their large family of eight children in Colonia Juarez. Their youngest son, Timmy, was severely handicapped as a result of a herpetic viral infection at birth. Gayle and Ed adopted him and raised him as if he were their own. He had cerebral palsy and was micro cephalic. The doctors didn’t expect him to live past age three especially in Mexico where there were no social services. Over time, Gayle discovered many families of similarly handicapped children. She started her own support group and eventually with five families, founded the APNMI center in 1993. Today it serves fifty handicapped children and twenty adults. The medical and dental services are available to the needy public.
The mission of the Association de Padres de Ninos Mentalmente Inhabilitados (APNMI) and it’s affiliated school “La Gaviota” is to help persons with disabilities and their families face their challenges in a positive way through the cooperation and united efforts of families with similar challenges. It was established to provide a place where parents could find information and the necessary services for their children with disabilities.
Three years ago, Timmy passed away at age 17. He lived many years longer than expected due to the love of his family. Through the love and courage of those who knew him, sprang the ministry of “La Gaviota”.
It was an honor to serve with these good people. I am grateful my daughter could meet them. We both agree we received far more than what we gave. I think I will go again.
While the news broadcasts the violent drug wars in the border towns of Mexico, not far away. The quiet daily efforts of those whose love and courage make a difference in the world one life at a time.
For more information on how you can share in this Labor of Love please contact [email protected] or www.laborofloveinmexico.blogspot.com
Dr. Bosler has a cosmetic and restorative dental practice in Vacaville at 301 Alamo Drive, Suite A2. You can also visit him at www.CaliforniaSmiling.com or by calling 449-3661.