Fixing One Smile at a Time

06/14/2013 Adrienne N. Hester
Smile it Forward Volunteers
Back row, L-R: Michelle B., Letti H., Suzanne Z., Allyson W., Lesley F., Mike D., Justin L., Adrienne H., Michael C.; Front row, L-R: Sandy A., Mohini P., Gabrielle A., Dee Dee C., Lani D., Marlene T.

Last year, I wrote "Get Involved Beyond the "Work" and Reap the Rewards" and shared three great client experiences involving community giving. Being able to help those experiencing a difficult time in life is always rewarding regardless of the scale. This year, I participated in with my client Smile It Forward. It's a self-funded non-profit organization (created by a small group of like-minded dental professionals for the sole purpose of giving back), assisting local dentists and practices with a day of service, by providing free basic dental care for individuals who seek assistance from charitable organizations.

Smile it ForwardWhat Smile it Forward provides are all the tools it takes to host a successful event. The team creates an event page and promotional flyers, then posts the details of the event on the Smile it Forward website including date, time, location, forms, follow-up care, etc., so the dental office is not overrun with calls. To date, there have been two successful events for the new charity.

Their first event partnered with the Central Christian Church Food Pantry, which distributes 850 bags of food to help feed more than 2,500 families throughout Southern Nevada monthly. Three dentists and assistants from different practices participated and provided four fillings and 14 extractions totaling more than $5,300.00 in free dental care.

Dr. Dee Dee taking a patient to the exam room
A patient heading to the exam room

The second event, four local dentists and assistants connected with HELP of Southern Nevada's Shannon West Homeless Youth Center. Practitioners performed 29 x-rays, nine tooth extractions, 17 fillings, applied fluoride on 17 patients and sealant on 32 teeth, totaling close to $10,000 for 26 deserving young adults.

A Shannon West Homeless Youth resident receiving dental care
A Shannon West Homeless Youth resident receiving dental care

The center provides services for at-risk youth that are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless. Motivating residents towards reaching self-sufficiency, the youth center provides the training and skills to further their education, employment, social and life skills. Last year, the youth center provided intensive case management, substance abuse counseling, mental health referrals, educational assessments and vocational training to 342 unduplicated youths.

The goal is to encourage the hundreds of dental offices across Southern Nevada to support the community and get involved. I know I'm glad I did.