Healing Hearts and Smiles Around the World

by | Dec 2023

IN THE bustling world of modern dentistry, where appointments and procedures fill the days, one Hendersonville dentist stands out for his incredible dedication to making a difference. Dr. Bill Taylor, owner of Invisible Smiles, has been on a remarkable journey for over four decades, providing dental care in underserved communities around the globe. 

Dr. Taylor embarked on his global journey in 1979 when he joined a Christian Medical Society project in the Dominican Republic. Then, in 1984, he was invited to work with a North American missionary dentist in Guatemala. Ever since, he has been on an extraordinary path to help those in need. 

“For me, [it’s] going and helping other folks and going to a third-world country. I mean, once you do it, you understand how lucky we are in the United States,” Dr. Taylor said. “A friend of mine in Guatemala said, ‘If you were born in the United States, you’ve already won a lottery.’ And so we’re blessed here in the United States, so I help take care of other people.” 

On these trips, he and a team of other health care professionals open clinics in village schools and churches. Hundreds of people line up outside, and doctors work quickly to take care of as many people as possible. Dentists, physicians, optometrists, and nurses work tirelessly, often from early morning until late in the day, fitting eyeglasses, providing medical care, and fixing painful dental issues. Previously, the Taylors teamed with the Hendersonville Rotary Club and served over 1,200 people in one week. 

When asked about the most memorable moments from his missions, Dr. Taylor shares heartwarming stories of patients who experienced life-changing transformations. One story was about a 78-year-old man. 

“We fit him for glasses. He leaves crying because he had never been able to see that well.” 

Some of these patients only have access to health care once a year. 

“If they get a toothache, they do not have access to dental care and will sometimes just hurt and remain infected for a long time,” he said. “In the U.S., we would have it taken care of in a week.” 

International service is a pillar of Rotary, which is “an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide, who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world,” according to their website. Dr. Taylor has played an integral role in the Hendersonville Rotary Club’s mission efforts, bringing millions of dollars in care to underserved communities in Guatemala. 

“We’ve gone from just dentistry to eyecare, physicians, and psychiatric care,” he said. 

Dr. Taylor is a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association, the Christian Medical Society, the Southeastern Society of Pediatric Dentistry, and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Dr. Taylor completed a one-year fellowship in dentistry for those with special needs. He’s also been treating patients with Invisalign for over 22 years. He has no problem staying busy. Still, he goes on a medical mission at least once a year. And he has little sympathy for those who say they can’t serve underprivileged communities. 

“You don’t have to do anything. We’ve got supplies. All you’ve got to do is show up and work, and everything goes well,” Dr. Taylor said. “If you can’t go out and physically help do anything, you can at least help financially.” 

Dr. Taylor’s work goes beyond improving the health of those he serves. It also helps change perceptions for both patient and doctor. While many people in these underserved communities may have preconceived notions about the United States based on media portrayals, Dr. Taylor’s selfless efforts paint a more positive picture of Americans. 

“They see us as wealthy, spoiled people who don’t care about anybody else,” he said. “We come down there, and they see, ‘Not all Americans are wealthy, spoiled, and don’t care about us.’ We do care. So it builds a better relationship with them also.” 

While reflecting on his service, Dr. Taylor had this story to tell: 

One day, a big storm came in and washed hundreds of starfish onto the shore. If they were left to dry out, they’d die. So, the little boy is taking them and throwing them back into the water, one at a time. A smart aleck, crotchety fisherman approaches the boy to say, “You can’t save ‘em all.” The boy threw another one into the ocean and said, ‘But I saved that one.’ 

And, after a pause, he said, “There’s some significance to all that.” GN 

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