Father-son dentists lead mission trip with Pitt students to Dominican Republic
A Cheswick family in its third generation of dentists led a mission to treat 700 patients in a week in a small village in the Dominican Republic.
Harold “David” Mock and his son, Maxwell, headed a team of 40 University of Pittsburgh junior and senior dental students last month to a small village northeast of Santo Domingo.
Maxwell Mock, 28, is starting his second year of practice in Springdale with his father, David, 65, of Cheswick, who has been a dentist for 40 years.
The younger Mock got involved in dentistry mission work in Honduras with the Delta Sigma Delta dental fraternity at the University of Pittsburgh dental school, where both men were educated.
They learned about the need in the Dominican Republic four years ago with Bright Island Outreach and have traveled there annually for four years.
“They were looking for help,” David Mock said.
“These are really poor people, with 90 percent of them working in the sugar cane fields,” he said.
Beside a lack of resources and transportation, their teeth have issues because they often pop a piece of sugar cane into their mouths during the day.
“They get a tremendous amount of decay,” David Mock said.
The free clinic there doesn't offer the “luxury” of suction and air to assist with the dental exams and procedures, which are often done at a picnic table in 90- to 100-degree heat, according to Mock.
The team completed more than 2,500 dental procedures — restorations, root canals and many extractions — during their recent makeshift clinic.
They also visited elementary schools in the area to teach oral health and apply protective fluoride varnish to all the children's teeth.
Grateful for the free dental work, the villagers staged a play at the end of the week for the dentists and students.
The mission included third- and fourth-year dental students, who paid their own way and who have little experience in a clinic setting, according to Mock.
“They say they learn more in a week than years in the dental school,” he said. “It makes you feel good that they are helping out.”
Plans are already under way for next year's dental mission.