Cottage Grove dentist Tom Dresen and his wife Terri could easily spend their vacation time at a resort near the ocean, working on their tans, relaxing under colorful beach umbrellas, and doing nothing. But the Minnesota couple do something a little more unusual– they pay their way to travel to Lima, Peru to help change the lives of needy kids with cleft lips and cleft palates.

Dresen specializes in prosthetic, implant and cosmetic dentistry. The Cottage Grove dentist uses his skills to treat kids for free at a Catholic hospital in the South American country of Peru a couple weeks each year. Meanwhile, Terri, Tom’s wife, helps take care of babies and teaches oral hygiene classes. They both find their time there well spent and very rewarding.

Interestingly, Peruvians have more cleft palate cases than most countries because for a long time people there thought children with cleft palates were “part god.” They got special treatment from others because of this, and the genes passed down through generations.

Times have changed, though, and these days parents want their kids to have “normal smiles.” Dr. Dresen is able to repair cleft lips and cleft palates rather quickly and easily, making him very much beloved by kids and their grateful parents. It’s not unusual for Dresen and his wife to get lots of kisses and hugs in the hallways of the hospital. Peruvian people are so appreciative that dental surgeons like Dr. Dresen would take the time and effort to come to Peru to donate their services for those in need.

Back at home in the USA, Dresen Dentistry has an office in Cottage Grove, MN at the Summerhill Professional Building on Pine Arbor Drive. Cottage Grove dentist Dr. Dresen and his staff take care of cleft lips and palates there, too.