At Academy Dental Care, we’re proud to be a part of the Westfield, NJ neighborhood, and interacting with our community and the members we treat every day is always a fulfilling experience for our doctors and team members. There are countless disadvantaged people in this world who need our help, and we strive to give back to these individuals and areas in need whenever possible. Please take a look below to learn more about the work we’ve recently engaged in and our potential plans for the future.
"Westfield Dentist Volunteers in the Dominican Republic"
WESTFIELD, NJ — At her practice in Westfield, dentist Ella Shuster’s main focus is prevention. But on a recent humanitarian trip to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, she got a very different perspective on dentistry. Shuster, who grew up in Westfield, spent a week in January treating people who do not have access to regular dental care.
“One of the patients I saw was a young girl with very broken down teeth,” said Shuster. “She was in her late twenties and had never been to a dentist. I had gone over the treatment plan with her, as many of the teeth had to be removed due to extensive decay.
“She was so afraid of having a denture like her mother that she just never went to the dentist,” Shuster continued. “Once I explained in Spanish that I was going to extract the teeth and immediately place implants she broke out in tears. I was so concerned. Did I say something wrong? She told me that I was like an angel and she couldn't have imagined anything like this could be happening to her. After we completed the surgery she started crying again and thanked me for coming and gave me a big hug.”
Shuster first thought about volunteering her time when her best friend worked for Doctors without Borders and shared with her how rewarding the trip was for her personally and professionally. Shuster wanted to have the same experience as a dentist.
“We are so fortunate in this area of the world to have the level of healthcare and dental care that we have,” said Shuster, who was the only female dentist on the trip. “I wanted to do what I can for others in the developing world. I started researching and found this trip and decided to go.”
During the week, Shuster said she saw between 300 and 400 patients a day.
“I saw patients as young as their twenties that had such bad oral health that may cause life-threatening conditions,” she said.