One year later, Dr. Alan Wolcott reflects on his journey to western Haiti to provide much needed relief and dental treatment for the poverty-stricken villagers.
This time last year, Silver Spring dentist, Dr. Alan Wolcott, travelled to the western mountains of Haiti to provide emergency dental care for the very poorest of the poor. The plan was simple. On each night of his four-day stay, Dr. Wolcott would pack up $25,000 worth of state-of-the-art X-ray equipment, dental tools and medications into a single backpack. The following morning, he would hike to his next location with all 75 pounds of equipment and supplies on his back. The day would be spent doing triage, examining teeth, and removing teeth when necessary. At the end of the day, Dr. Wolcott would fall asleep with a smile on his face, knowing that his team effort helped to bring relief to the people in the impoverished villages of western Haiti.
One year later, Dr. Wolcott reflects on this journey of a lifetime…
"At first, my knee-jerk reaction to the opportunity to come and donate my services to the poverty-stricken people of Haiti was firmly positive. My first response was 'sure' but after much consideration, the idea of four days in the most remote enclaves - without electricity, clean running water and other amenities we take for granted - made the adventure seem more daunting."
This perfectly natural anxiety thankfully didn't prevent Dr. Wolcott from packing up his dental tools and getting on that airplane.
"The closest dentist was three hours away by car or a day's walk, which for most of the people was just impossible."
The prospect of performing dental surgery in the remote mountainous reaches of western Haiti - even under questionable conditions - wasn't enough to deter this Silver Spring dentist. "I resolved to provide the best dental care possible under any conditions and this challenge infused me with great energy," said Dr. Wolcott.
And so, his trip was planned, evaluated and brainstormed so that he could effectively see to as many people in as short amount of time. What he met when he arrived at his destination was enough to change any man or woman and certainly enough to remind us just how privileged we are.
"The stark reality is that here in the United States there is a very good chance of obtaining help when you need it. In contrast, where I was going there had never been any dentists; clean, drinkable water was not routinely available; and malnutrition was common. For the people living day to day, fever reducers and a vitamin a day provide immense relief and help," says Dr. Wolcott.
For many Haitian villagers, the closest dentist was three hours away by car and a day's walk by foot; a distance that, for most of the villagers, was just impossible considering their many other daily responsibilities or even state of health.
Instead of having a painful decaying tooth treated, thus saving the tooth, the reality for these people is that they'd wait until the last remnants of the tooth fell out, at which stage the swelling and pain would go away. "This is absolutely no way to live," says Dr. Wolcott.
"The generosity and spirit of you - my friends, my patients - was overwhelming"
Dr. Wolcott's trip to Haiti was made all the more possible and all the more effective by the overwhelming generosity of friends and patients.
"Nearly every day, bottles and bags of infant and children's ibuprofen, acetaminophen and multivitamins were dropped off. It touched my heart, and I have the utmost gratitude for the selflessness that I witnessed," says Dr. Wolcott. "By far, the greatest support was about doing all we could for the children!"
Most parents know what it is like to be up with a crying, pain and fever-stricken child late at night. We may think we understand what that kind of anxiety is like until you consider that the mothers and fathers in western Haiti don't even have access to common over-the-counter pain and fever relievers, such as Tylenol and Advil. These standard medications are in desperately short supply and are just as desperately needed.
"It is a terrible shame that children are dying of medical conditions that can be quickly and easily treated with a simple tablet. Pain, fever and infection are not complicated to treat and yet they hit these people in a way that is hard for the privileged to imagine," says Dr. Wolcott.
"You know life is tough when you see children carrying gallon-buckets of water home from the river two miles down a very rocky path."
"You don't know poverty until you see abject poverty," says Dr. Wolcott. "Six poles in the ground and a blue tarp are called home; pulling a potato out of the ground, cutting off one of the eyes and burying it back in the ground in the same spot, hoping that next year it will yield fruit. At the very same time, you don't know happy until you see happy! People waving as you walk or little children running up and wishing you 'Good morning!' anytime, day or night.
In four days, Dr. Wolcott and his team were able to see over 100 dental patients, pull over 100 badly decayed teeth, and address over 100 infections. Over 1,000 toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste were handed out in an effort to help the villagers keep decay at bay.
"It was a good week, made possible by the generous contributions from you," says Dr. Wolcott.
About Silver Spring Dentist, Dr. Alan Wolcott, D.D.S.
Dr. Wolcott is one of the few dentists in the world that has had personal, hands-on training with the two world leaders in the advanced area of full mouth implant reconstruction.
With over 15 years' experience in restoring dental implants and his advanced training with Dr. Paulo Malo (Malo Education Advanced Oral Rehabilitation, Lisbon, Portugal) and Dr. Thomas Balshi (Pi Dental Center at Institute for Facial Esthetics, Fort Washington, PA), Dr. Wolcott is considered one of the area's leading dentists in the "All on 4 Implants" treatment choice.
Dr. Wolcott knew he would be a dentist since he was 10 years old. He started his dental training in the U.S. Army, graduated from the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery Dental School, University of Maryland, and immediately without restriction received his dental license from the Maryland State Board of Dental Examiners.
Dr. Wolcott has both lectured and trained around the world to stay attuned to the latest trends in dental services and technology. With his training and his enthusiastic approach of caring for the whole patient, Dr. Wolcott has the ability to provide treatments that are not available in every dental office.
As one of the area's "TOP DENTISTS," Dr. Wolcott has built an honest and trustworthy reputation with his patients. His continuous education and his attention to detail have given him immense personal satisfaction in his profession, as has being the owner of one of the area's premier dental offices in Silver Spring.
Contact Dr. Alan Wolcott
To contact Dr. Alan Wolcott, give Dental Health Associates a call at either (866) 838-9688 or (301) 850-0037. Alternatively, leave your details with them via the Contact Form on their website and they'll get back to you.
Drs. Wolcott | Centty | Poupard-Toner
Silver Spring Dentists
1734 Elton Rd. Suite 231
Silver Spring MD 20903