Restoring Smiles Abroad

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alexa Culbert
  • Maxwell Public Affairs

Kelley Davis, Maxwell Dental Clinic volunteer, was a stay-at-home mom when she began taking college courses. She applied for as many scholarships as she could, with many of them being geared toward military families.

She estimates that 95 percent of her tuition was covered by scholarships.

Since then, she has been giving back to the military by volunteering on her days off at the dental clinic on base.

“I couldn’t just take the money and run, this is my way to say thank you for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime,” she said.

According to Maj. Matthew Moberg, 42nd Air Base Wing chief of dental services, Davis has treated 81 patients and has provided $12,138 worth of dentistry since she began volunteering at the base clinic a little over a year ago.

Moberg said she has a positive attitude that is contagious while she is at the clinic and overall has the heart of a volunteer.

Davis recently received another opportunity of a lifetime, finding yet another way to give back using the skills she has.

Through the non-profit organization, Global Dental Relief, Davis served on a dental mission trip in Cambodia and learned just how impactful a healthy smile can be for someone’s life.

GDR’s mission is to provide dental care to children in Nepal, India, Kenya and Cambodia.

She said she had always wanted to go to Asia and serve on a dental mission trip, so she made it happen.

She was on a plane to Cambodia 11 months later and she stayed there from Oct. 25, to Nov. 5, 2017.

While there, Davis and the other volunteers worked in a remote village tending to children ages from five through 17, working roughly 10-hour days depending on the amount of children who showed up.

Each child received a toothbrush with instructions on how to properly brush their teeth. For many of them this was the first time they had seen a toothbrush.

Davis described the weather as hot and humid, even more so than here in Alabama, and the experience was far from glamourous, but amazing nonetheless.

Her first day however, left her shocked.

“There is a lot of tooth decay over there and it was shocking that first day,” she said. I had only seen this stuff in text books and I almost froze.”

Davis told herself that she had to do whatever she could to get their teeth as clean as possible.

Out of all the children she treated, there is one that stands out to her.

An 11-year-old girl, whose teeth, due to the high amounts of iron in the water, had been discolored completely brown. She scrubbed every single tooth until her teeth were back to their original color.

“I showed her in the mirror and when she smiled she was thrilled,” Davis said. “She didn’t even know her teeth could be that white.”

Davis said with being a military spouse there are lot of opportunities to volunteer and volunteerism has always been a part of who she is.

Aside from her service in Cambodia, Moberg said her passion for taking care of and serving people also reflects in the work she does at Maxwell as well.

After seeing the impact she can have on a large group of people Davis has decided to make the GDR dental mission trip to Cambodia a yearly one.