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John Jennings and Dr. Sandra Vargas of North Atlanta Family Dentistry on a mission trip.

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Giving Smiles across the globe

Dr. Sandra Vargas makes it her mission to provide dental health for kids in need through "Together We Smile"

Johns Creek Lifestyle: We love the mission of Together We Smile, “to provide help for those struggling for basic life needs in impoverished communities in Colombia and other areas of South and Central America.” When was your last trip and when is the next trip planned? 

Dr Sandra Vargas: We were in rural Costa Rica in July of this year and we will be in Santa Cruz del Islote, Colombia later this year if the conditions allow. Santa Cruz del Islote has the highest population density of any island in the world. The islet is of artificial origin, built by locals who used coral, debris, stone, and other materials to build up the land at low tide. There is a tremendous need for medical attention in this poverty-stricken community. We have been to Colombia many times and this will be our first trip to this island.

JCL: Together We Smile provides medical aid, basic health education and supplies to support day to day survival of the people, mostly women and children who live in the areas you visit. Your husband John Jennings and you plan and lead the trips. What are your days like?

SV: A typical patient we see is someone who probably has never seen a dentist before. There is abundant decay and periodontal disease. Many people have been suffering in pain and with infections that have been ongoing for years. These infections lead to other systemic diseases and illnesses. The people we meet in these communities are very happy to see our team. It is tough to see the condition of some of the patients that have not been treated for years. We do everything we can in our short time there. Our goal is to remove or repair what we can to stop the infection. When possible we do work with local community leaders to help them solve 

JCL: Tell us about the communities you visit.

SV: We dedicate ourselves to visiting the extremely poor communities. The conditions we work in are very rudimentary, usually in churches or on the desks of a classroom. We work in very rough conditions, many times without electricity. Our team members are familiar with field medicine and we work hard to create the best conditions possible for our safety and a sanitary working area. Some areas do not have access to clean drinking water and many live in primitive, unsafe conditions. These communities get pushed to the side and have no power or access to education or health resources. We also seek out the elderly in these communities because they are often overlooked.

JCL: You not only provide emergency dental care to those in need, but also work to establish a basic level of health education in the community starting with the children who are eager to learn. Your team members deliver supplies and encourage other members of the medical profession to join your cause to have a greater impact. How can our readers help? 

SV: Thank you for asking and bringing attention to our mission. The communities we visit struggle daily for basic human needs. We created our charity to be "hands-on" and have a direct effect on the communities we serve. We are in need of donations to help these people. Together We Smile is dedicated to using 100% of donations to help people in need. "No act of generosity is too small to make a difference!" New or gently worn summer children's clothing and shoes are much needed. Donations can be left at our North Atlanta Family Dentistry office in Johns Creek or Cumming.


  • John Jennings and Dr. Sandra Vargas of North Atlanta Family Dentistry on a mission trip.