For Dr. Eros Chaves fixing people’s teeth is about more than aesthetics, it is about improving life.
A clinical associate professor at West Virginia University’s School of Dentistry, Chaves recently spent a week in Brazil doing just that.
“Imagine you are without teeth, it would change your life. Then, someone brings them back to you and it is fantastic. Everything is better, you can smile, eat better, improve your appearance, self-esteem and your overall health is better,” Chaves said.
Chaves spent a week volunteering at the P-I Branemark Institute in the city of Bauru, Brazil. The institute provides free services for the underserved population in Brazil without teeth.
At the institute, patients receive dental implants – giving them a full mouth of teeth – in just three days. In the week that Chaves was there, he helped give three people teeth.
The experience was so beneficial that he is now working to arrange a trip for residents and highly qualified students in the WVU School of Dentistry.
“This is a unique opportunity for our dental students, residents and faculty willing to have this experience to provide a better quality of life to a fellow human being,” he said.
Volunteering at the institute also gives students and residents the opportunity to receive in-depth knowledge about a beneficial procedure, Chaves added.
Those who go to the institute are given the opportunity to participate in an intensive course that teaches the proper procedure for placing the implants. The institute also provides services and learning opportunities for oral maxillofacial dental implants to support prosthesis for patients who had surgical procedures in the oral cavity and face.
The institute, which opened in 2005, is a non-profit organization that was started by Dr. Per-Ingvar Branemark who is known as the “father of osseointegrated titanium dental implants.” The institute is supported by national and international donations. Services at the institute are provided for free to 80 percent of patients. Those who can afford the procedure are charged a reduced fee.
For more information on the institute, visit http://us.branemark.org.br/ .
Chaves, a diplomate on the American Board of Periodontology, has worked at WVU since August. Previously, he operated his own practice and held clinical faculty positions at the University of Florida, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Pittsburgh, University of Texas Houston Dental Branch, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and the University of Michigan.
Students, residents and faculty members interested in participating in a clinical trip to the institute can contact Chaves at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-293-5642.
By Colleen DeHart
WVU News & Information Services
CONTACT: Colleen DeHart, News and Information Services