Members: Dr. Liliane Brantes and Dr. Peter Vanicek
Reason: Donating Dental Services to Children Worldwide
Dr. Liliane Brantes and her husband, Dr. Peter Vanicek, sold their practice in 2012 and took their expertise on the road—or maybe more accurately, across the ocean—to countries worldwide to help children in need of dental treatment.
“Working with children is most rewarding because through them we are able to create communities of people who grow up with good oral health,” says Dr. Brantes. “These children will then pass on the same good habits to their own children.”
One of their favorite Colorado organizations is Global Dental Relief (GDR). GDR offers trips to India, Cambodia, Guatemala, Kenya and Nepal—all countries to which Brantes and Vanicek have traveled to provide dental services. They also have partnered with another Colorado private initiative, Musana Community Development Organization, in Uganda.
“Musana is an inspiring sustainable community organization,” says Dr. Brantes, “especially dear to our hearts because it was started eight years ago by two young Colorado [University of Colorado] students, Andrea and Leah Pauline, our very own patients.
This summer took Brantes and Vanicek to Africa, where they combined their work with GDR in Kenya with a trip to Uganda where they provided much needed dentistry at Musana’s Medical and Dental Clinic.
The work in Africa was intense, according to Brantes, because of the sheer number of patients they treated on a daily basis.
In Kenya, at the Kikuyu Hospital Dental Clinic, working with a team of five dentists and two dental hygienists, the pair treated an average of 200 children a day. The children in the program have the opportunity to be seen at the clinic every three years. With that in mind, Brantes and Vanicek do their best to do as much complete dentistry as possible for each child, using a public health model in their triage and placing a big emphasis on prevention and home care.
In Uganda, Brantes and Vanicek worked both at the Musana Medical and Dental Clinic, as well at the Musana schools, doing treatment planning for 980 primary students and 250 secondary school students at the vocational school. They also participated in outreach programs, working alongside a young Ugandan dentist. They set up portable chairs and offer extractions for villagers who lined up by the hundreds under the scorching equatorial sun for the opportunity to obtain relief from dental pain.
“One interesting fact we found in Africa was that a large percentage of children, maybe 30-40%, had no cavities,” says Dr. Brantes. “The soil in the areas we visited was volcanic, and the ground water contained lots of minerals, as well as an excessive amount of fluoride, and everyone consumed well water. Another contributing factor to the low decay rate, ironically enough, was poverty. The children did not have access to sweets and sodas and other expensive treats.”
Brantes and Vanicek plan to continue traveling the world to help children in need, heading to Nepal for a month in late October. They encourage other CDA members to also participate in similar programs, at both a local level and also at an international level, if possible.
“Our colleagues often comment that simply by giving away dentistry to those in need, they receive so much more in return,” says Dr. Brantes.
It’s no secret: Dentists have passion for what they do, both in their professions and in their personal lives. It’s passion that drives them to go above and beyond to help their patients and their communities. It’s passion that carries over into their personal lives, where they set—and achieve—goals others only dream about. The CDA thinks it’s time for these pillars of society to get a little recognition for their service or achievements, so we’re starting Faces of the CDA to tell their stories.
To nominate a CDA member for recognition in Faces of the CDA, please email Molly Pereira at firstname.lastname@example.org and include the member’s name and the reason for the nomination.