Local Kids Get Dental Work From Gringos

You can run, but you can’t hide from flossing
BY: DR. D. KAY

Amigos de los Ninos, (Friends of Children, ADLN), provides quality health care to Los Cabos children up to 18 years old who have no other way of accessing a dentist. The 25 year old charitable organization provides free dental work to any child who needs it.

They work out of a donated home up in the barrio, which they have converted into a multiroom multifunction clinic, even building another story on the roof. The extra story, completed last fall, provides room for a three chair pediatric dental suite, a meeting room, and two consultation rooms for audiology, cardiology, and other pediatric specialties. This extra floor actually triples their ability to impact the community’s children’s medical needs according to Gay Thatcher, the long time executive director.

Dr. Greg Psaltis, a renowned pediatric dentist in the States, and now a board member with ADLN, flies down frequently with a team of dental health care professionals who also care passionately about their industry and about children who have no access to dental care.

“If we don’t catch certain problems at an early age, they can become a bigger problem in these kids’ permanent teeth later,” he tells us. “We also try to teach them good dental hygiene,” he says. And when we were there they were talking to all the mothers who brought their children in that day.

The mood was surprisingly calm, with no histrionics about going to the dentist. (Now I’m thinking that maybe this writer over did that in his childhood). Each child was given a small toy on the way out and the way they agonized over their choices made us suspect they don’t get many brightly colored pencils.

Dr. Psaltis said the teeth of the children who drink the local water right out of the tap unfiltered, suffer no ill effects, but that he can see damage from too many sweets. But don’t all dentists say that? Cutting down on sweets is part of their flossing lecture.

In the couple of days the team rotates in, they can treat 120 to 180 children in the new three chair clinic Dr. Psaltis designed, and can produce about $20,000 worth of dental work if it were being billed. In the 10 years the teams have been coming down here, they have provided more than $200,000 in free services.

Other programs Amigos de los Ninos run from this building are an audio clinic, eye clinic, pediatric cardiology, and various assistance for special needs cases such as cancer, acquired illnesses, and congenital conditions. These serious cases would not ever receive any help in this country, as they are seen as not the best use of limited resources.

Last year Adln,  through various fundraising efforts, brought in $242,576. Their building project had a special angel that helped them with the $120,000 the new second took. Their administrative costs for this 12 month period was 8.3%. In-kind donations amounted to $87,100, for a total budget of $449,676. Executive director Thatcher assures us that this information is available through the efforts of an external audit and details are available on request.

If you would like to get involved, go to www.adln.org and see some of their work and some suggestions on giving.  Or email Thatcher at bajathatcher@hotmail.com. They are also on Facebook, you know the drill on finding them there.

The Friends of the Children is a recognized tax deduction in Mexico and in the United States through International Community Foundation.   ,