After 30 years, Cynthia Graves, DDS has a storied history with her profession. The most recent of which was her dental mission trip to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Rather than soaking up the sun or scuba-diving, one of her favorite pastimes, Dr. Graves was providing her dental expertise to underprivileged people on the island.
The Dominican Republic is known for lush beaches and beautiful weather. But what is often forgotten is that one third of their population lives in poverty and cannot afford basic dental care. As a dedicated member of the International Dental Implant Association, Dr. Graves felt this was an opportunity to serve people with her talents.
International Dental Implants Association
IDIA, International Dental Implants Association, has been organizing trips for just under a decade, and has a global mission to provide advanced dental care to people unable to afford it themselves. The vision for this organization was for economic empowerment in these impoverished areas. Dr. Arun Garg created the IDIA to provide training alongside the dental procedures in these underserved communities. While the organization started small, it now boasts almost 3000 members globally, including Dr. Graves.
On average, each trip will provide dental and facial surgery for 500 implants, 45 complex sinus lifts, 10 ridge splits and 5 crestal sinus lifts. A team of 30 doctors will perform around $2 million worth of dental care.
This trip involved a team of 25 dental surgeons, all associated with IDIA. Dr. Graves herself provided almost $200,000 worth of dental implants in the space of 3 days. Putting over 30 hours of time towards the effort earned Dr. Graves a prestigious IDIA commendation. And almost 300 patients benefitted from her and her associates’ work.m
The International Dental Implant Association has pioneered the world’s most successful live patient educational programs. For many dentists it can be a struggle to balance teaching and treatment. But this is not so for Dr. Graves. She spoke of the experience excitedly. Being able to teach while also practicing dentistry is something she incorporates into her work in Texas, “It’s second nature for me, teaching and tending to others go hand-in-hand,” said Dr. Graves.
The most challenging aspect was the work schedule and using unfamiliar equipment. At the clinic, a 10+ workday was standard and she only had the tools provided. Often these were unfamiliar or antiquated. Here in Austin, Dr. Graves uses guided dental implants to create perfect smiles. Luckily, her decades of dental experience meant she never felt unprepared.
Dr. Graves celebrated Labor Day by doing the work she loves. She feels confident that she’ll return to the Dominican Republic, though perhaps as a tourist in the future. For now she’s happy to return to work in Austin, as there’s plenty of adventure to be found at home.