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Oxford Periodontist Travels to Dominican Republic for Mission Trip

Dr. Michael Perry with Sarah and John West Perry in San Jose de Ocoa, Dominican Republic.
Dr. Michael Perry with Sarah and John West Perry in San Jose de Ocoa, Dominican Republic.

Oxford Periodontist, Dr. Michael Perry, took his two kids, Sarah, 12, and John West, 11, to the San Jose de Ocoa, Dominican Republic for nine days to treat the underserved last week.

The Dominican Dental Mission Project was founded by Dr. Frank Serio, a periodontist, and one of Dr. Perry’s mentor’s in dental school at UMMC in Jackson. Dr. Serio founded the Dominican Dental Mission Project over 30 years ago and will be receiving the Humanitarian Award for Service at the November 2015 American Dental Association meeting. This award will be presented by the President of the United States and is considered ADA’s highest honor.

 Dr. Serio with Dr. Perry's children
Dr. Serio with Dr. Perry’s children.

Dr. Perry also attended the mission trip in 1997 while a third-year dental student at UMMC.

“I have wanted to go back several times, but was not able to attend due to residency or private practice constraints.” Perry said. “My wife, Kim, and I believe it is important to give back to your community as well as to others who are not provided the same opportunities we have. Dr. Serio took his kids when they were Sarah and John West’s ages so we thought it would be a great opportunity for our kids. The kids did great despite being in a foreign environment.”

The Dominican Dental Mission Project consisted of 22 volunteers last week and provided $375,000 to $400,000 in donated dental services by providing preventative care, extractions, as well as complete dentures for the patients.

“The volunteers consist primarily of dentists and dental students from UMMC and from East Carolina University. Dr. Serio and I are periodontists and we were also fortunate to have a prosthodontist on this trip,” said Perry.

Sarah and John West entertain the children while they wait for their dental appointments.
Sarah and John West entertain the children while they wait for their dental appointments.

One of the biggest benefits for my kids was for them to see how people live in some of these villages. None of the villages had running water or electricity in the homes. The only place with electricity was in the small school located in the center of the village. Perry also said the village and volunteers ate lunch together. “Sarah and John West were able to show the kids how to brush their teeth, hand out toothbrushes and were able to interact with the kids by playing baseball and other games.

One of the sayings Dr. Serio reminds the volunteers is what one of the patients said a few years ago in one of the remote mountain villages: “Because the dentists come back every year, we know that God has not forgotten us.”

“The dental mission trip was a great experience for my kids and for me. I look forward to going more often and taking them again,” said Perry.

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