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Jul 30th
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Home News Latest Local dentist prepares for humanitarian trip to Colombia

Local dentist prepares for humanitarian trip to Colombia

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LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – A young local dentist is preparing to leave later this month to take part in a humanitarian mission to Colombia.

Levi Palmer, 38, will go to Colombia April 14-24, where he and a cohort of about 10 dentists and up to 40 dental students will bring much-needed emergency dental care to residents of the Cartagena area.

Beginning in 2000 – when he was a dental student at the University of Southern California – Palmer has taken such trips about once a year with AYUDA International Dental Clinics, a nonprofit organization that holds dental clinics worldwide.

The group’s Web site,, reported that over the past four decades AYUDA has helped more than 200,000 dental patients.

This is Palmer’s first trip to South America. He previously traveled to areas including Mexico and Central America, seeing as many as 1,000 patients during his last mission.

“It’s pretty rewarding,” he said.

The clinics in Colombia will be held in facilities provided by the Fundacion Granitos de Paz, a group that serves the poor.

Palmer’s wife, Christina, has accompanied him on previous missions, but this time around Christina will be staying home for an important reason – the couple is expecting their first child later this year.

A video made by Christina Palmer about the AYUDA dental mission to Belize and Guatemala in 2011 can be seen above.

Levi Palmer followed in his father’s footsteps in becoming a dentist. Roger Palmer was a popular dentist who practiced in Kelseyville until his death several years ago.

He took over his father’s practice but later pursued a residency in pediatric dentistry. Today, Levi Palmer’s practice in downtown Lakeport is the only one in Lake County dedicated to pediatric dentistry.

“I love my job,” he said.

Fitting well with Palmer’s specialty, the AYUDA dental clinic in Colombia will see mostly children – about 90 percent, Palmer estimated – but some adults, too.

“There’s a lot of kids with pain down there,” he said.

Children who have dental pain, he added, have been shown to not do as well in school. Many children also are afraid of saying anything because of fear of going to the dentist.

Typically the clinic’s dentists will pull a lot of teeth, and do fillings and crowns. He said they focus on preserving adult molars, which are the teeth that the children will have for the rest of their lives and which therefore are critical.

Palmer said there is always a line of people waiting for help, and the clinic staff will work five to six days in a row, as long as 11 hours a day.

“At the end of five days we’re pretty tired,” he said.

Each year Palmer, along with paying for his own trip, offers a scholarship for a dental student to take part in one of the missions.

He said he enjoys having the opportunity to see the students working and helping patients.

Each of the participating dentists also chips in to cover the food for all three dozen or so students for one day, he said.

“It’s just such a cool experience,” he said. “There’s nothing like it.”

Incidentally, Palmer and the team of dentists and dental students will be arriving in Colombia just as the Summit of the Americas – a summit of 34 of the countries in the Americas – is in session. President Barack Obama is expected to be in attendance at the event, set to take place April 14-15.

For more about the efforts of AYUDA and to donate, visit .

Email Elizabeth Larson at .

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Comments (14)Add Comment
guest    1
written by a guest, April 04, 2012
There was reference made that our Country has huge needs, and our County(or parts of it), has even larger needs in regard to poverty(dentistry). I guess that pointing out the irony of a professional looking outside of the U.S. to help poor people when there is so much need here at taboo.
A few folks pulled there heads out of the sand long enough to complain about those who have the audacity to point out the obvious........but let's be clear.
This dentist is to be admired for what he is doing.
written by Greg_Cornish, April 03, 2012
You mean someone else used their real names?
written by Guest2213, April 03, 2012
@Greg-I think the criticism was mostly on the LC news fb page.
Strange how people see things
written by Greg_Cornish, April 03, 2012
I reread all the comments and couldn't find a single criticism. Were they deleted?
You rock doc!
written by Butcherlove, April 03, 2012
This is an amazing article about an amazing dentist.i agree let the good news be good news.amazing how so many were quick to critize.i can only imagine how greatful those people are.way to go Doc!smilies/grin.gif
written by a guest, April 03, 2012
This is amazing. Levi does so much good for lake county and its beautiful to see him helping people without resources. While we might need care in LC and healthcare in the US isnt ideal we still have it really great here and have a lot of opportunities to get cared for. This can be a once in a lifetime, life changing event for the people of Ayuda. Kudos Levi the world needs more people like you, thank you for spreading good.
Good Work!!
written by jmadison, April 03, 2012
This county has M.D.s, Veterinarians, and now Dentists that go to do free work in extremely poor countries. This county is where they make a living. To the whiners: Quit expecting everything for free!
Practicing Dentistry or Medicine
written by a guest, April 03, 2012
in Lake County is a humanitarian mission in itself, and while a doctor or dentist can eventually make a good living here and pay off educational debt, I believe that few if any get rich practicing locally. Correct me if I'm wrong. Kudos to this young man for giving some of his time to help people who have even fewer resources than the people here.
Great to see
written by sean22michael, April 03, 2012
Not many dentist's in our city would go on a humanitarian effort, it's wonderful to read of someone that will and does. This takes a tremendous amount of heart and many people will be thankful for the needed treatment they're going to receive. I wish more would participate.
Good work Palmer!
written by a guest, April 03, 2012
Its a pity we can't just let good news be good news. You folks have taken a great article and cheapened it just because the clinic isnt a benefit to you or yours specifically. It sounds like Dr. Palmer goes once a year to countries that are less privledged than ourselves and gives up his time, money and services to those in need. Though I do agree a free dental clinic would be great for LC-I think that children in the US have more resources available to them than those in a foreign or third world country. You dont hear too much of these humanitarian trips these days (from anyone in LC or in general) and so when we do, let's let the good news be good news and not be so quick to criticize it.
guest    1
Sad state of affairs
written by a guest, April 03, 2012
Yes, a noble gesture....however

32.9% of the residents of Clearlake live below the poverty level.

(U.S. census quick facts)
as above....
written by a guest, April 03, 2012

37% of Colombia lives below poverty level.

19% Lake Count living below poverty level

Thanks for all you good work and help.

Suggestion. With our current insurance problems, many without Dental services, next time around, stay here and open up your services.

I would volunteer. Retired RDA/LVN

I was going to stay...
written by Greg_Cornish, April 03, 2012
A humanitarian trip to the north shore would be cool.
Humanitarian Dentist
written by ClkOaks, April 03, 2012
Nice story. Just wish we had some humanitarian dentists in Lake County that could help relieve pain and discomfort of the uninsured here. Dental work is too expensive for the average resident here. Very hard to find dental insurance in this county unless you work for local/state government or have an out of county job.

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