NEW YORK, NY, USA: Jalen’s mother realized that having a beautiful smile would change everything for her son. Accidents resulting in trauma to his mouth as a child had left him with a broken smile. With each passing year, she watched him retreat into a shell of silence and pain. She had tried to get him the dental care he needed, but the family had faced hard times over the years and they were unable to afford it.
Jalen was a hardworking student and a talented artist, but poor oral health was robbing him of his self-esteem and ability to concentrate in school. Distracted by constant agony and shame, he struggled socially and academically. Fearing ridicule, he was intimidated by the prospect of making friends and afraid to ask for help with his studies. Then, the unfortunate loss of his beloved grandmother further shattered his fragile spirit. Realizing his future was in jeopardy, Jalen’s mother vowed to find a way to help her son. Then, tragedy struck once again. Before she could realize her dream of seeing her son smile again, she died.
Seeing this gifted teen suffer in silence, his art teacher was compelled to take up his mother’s charge to find a way to give Jalen the healthy smile he deserved.
“He is so self-conscious about his teeth. Jalen has the most insightful comments, yet when he speaks, he covers his mouth with his hand every time, making him difficult to understand,” the art teache said. She recommended Jalen for Tomorrow’s SMILES, a teen program of the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation: America’s Toothfairy (NCOHF) that provides promising, at-risk teens with comprehensive oral health services to help prepare them for healthy, successful futures.
“Jalen is an impressive young man who has coped with his losses in such a dignified way. He would greatly appreciate the opportunity for a better smile and to fulfill his mother’s wish,” she said about this remarkable teen.
Sponsored by the Patterson Foundation, Tomorrow’s SMILES helps restore smiles and self esteem while encouraging teens to take responsibility for their oral health. Caring volunteer dentists provide pro-bono restorative services to a pre-screened ambitious teen. Tomorrow’s SMILES volunteer dentists also have access to generously donated products from Invisalign and Nobel Biocare (including Procera) to help restore the smiles of pre-screened, promising teens.
In return for receiving this life-changing care, participating teens “Pay It Forward” by sharing their newfound oral health knowledge through interactive oral health lessons with younger children in their community.
Pay It Forward enables these teens to serve as mentors and teachers to children, encouraging good oral health habits that will help them maintain beautiful, happy smiles throughout their lives and help break the cycle of pediatric dental disease in their own community.
Jalen underwent full orthodontic treatment, thanks to Drs. Jennifer Ludwig, Dr. Eugene Simon and their dedicated staff. Dr. Stephen Shall generously donated his services and performed Jalen’s oral surgery. Dr. Ted Beitelschees, Anne Britt, RDH, and the Owens Community College Dental Center and Dental Hygiene Clinic provided preventive and restorative dental services. As his oral health improved, his grades improved as well.
No longer avoiding eye contact with others, Jalen smiles easily and confidently.
“This has been a rewarding experience for me and others who know Jalen’s story,” commented Anne Britt, RDH, of Owens Community College. By donating their time and expertise, these dental professionals helped make his mother’s wish come true, giving Jalen a beautiful smile and the confidence he needs to succeed.
You can help transform a teen’s needless pain and suffering into a happy, beautiful smile and the promise of a brighter future by volunteering for Tomorrow’s SMILES. To learn more about Tomorrow’s SMILES, visit www.TomorrowsSMILES.org. Email Brenda Woodington at email@example.com to volunteer to save a smile and change a teen’s life today!
Source: The Dental Tribune