“It’ll fix itself.”

Those are the words twin sisters Ailene and Arlene Invencion kept repeating to themselves after traveling to the Philippines to get braces during their sophomore year of high school. Those words, after all, were said to them immediately following their procedures. They had no reason to believe otherwise. 

After a checkup with their local dentist in Hawaii, they were mortified to find out things were not so ideal. Their dentist knew immediately something was wrong with their teeth.

“We had no X-rays, records, or documentation to give our dentist back home,” says Ailene. “They couldn’t fix anything without knowing what our teeth were like before the operations.”

Ailene and Arlene were stuck. Their local dentist suggested they wait approximately six months before removing the braces. After the braces were out, they realized their teeth shifted improperly, and more work was required to fix what was done.

Although they felt betrayed by the orthodontist who didn’t provide competent, compassionate care, Ailene and Arlene look back at their experience and see it as a turning point in their lives. They understood firsthand what it was like to not have proper care. That experience set their hearts on healthcare, specifically dentistry.

With friends and former classmates in the healthcare field, the sisters knew dentistry was a great path to take professionally. Furthermore, their negative experience instilled a desire in both Ailene and Arlene to provide positive healthcare experiences for others. They followed the dental path throughout the rest of high school and college.

They attended Chaminade University in Hawaii for their undergraduate studies, but since Hawaii has no dental school, they had to search for postgraduate schools outside the state. In their research, they saw how ATSU’s mission aligned with their own ideals and goals. Through the guidance of their counselors and fellow Chaminade University students who chose ATSU, they decided to pursue their education at ATSU-MOSDOH. Now, as second-year dental students, they are closer to realizing their dream of providing care to the underserved.

“We want to work in community health centers, and we want to participate in outreach clinics,” says Arlene. “That’s where we see the best opportunity to give back and provide care.”

Ailene and Arlene will achieve that goal next year when they start clinical rotations at the St. Louis Dental Education and Oral Health Center. Despite their shared love for dentistry and serving the underserved, they already have plans to part ways after graduation. They will pursue their individual careers and provide positive healthcare experiences for those most in need.


mentor

Patricia Lee-Robinson, associate provost at Chaminade University

“She was always there for guidance and always made sure we had a plan.” — Ailene and Arlene Invencion