Phyllis Diller once said, “A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”
This wasn’t true for Haley, a bright teen with a broken smile. Her smile was met with teasing and harsh nicknames like “Hillbilly Hick Haley” from her classmates. “I try not to smile or laugh very often,” Haley said and always hid her smile and laughter by covering her mouth with her hands in attempt to spare herself from the cruel jokes of her classmates.
“Once, I smiled and showed my teeth in a school picture. When everyone saw my picture, they laughed and made fun of me. Now, they call me names and write notes saying that I should get my teeth fixed,” said Haley. In addition to barrage of ridicule from her peers, Haley endured severe, physical pain on a daily basis too that made it almost impossible to live a normal life. Clenching her teeth in an effort to relieve her agony, she found it difficult to concentrate on her studies.
Her parents longed to be able to help their daughter, but they were unable to find steady employment to support their five children. Struggling to make ends meet, there was never enough to take care of Haley’s dental needs.
Michael, a Teen REACH Coordinator at her local Boys & Girls Club, saw a talented, promising teen suffering daily pain and humiliation. So, he contacted Tomorrow’s SMILES® for help. Sponsored by the Patterson Foundation and Philips Sonicare, Tomorrow’s SMILES® is a teen program of National Children’s Oral Health Foundation: America’s ToothFairy® (NCOHF) providing at-risk adolescents with comprehensive oral health services to help prepare them for healthy and productive futures. Through this program, caring volunteer dentists provide pro-bono restorative services for a prescreened underserved teen and have access to generously donated products from Invisalign® and Nobel Biocare™ (including Procera®).
“She is a remarkable young woman who is plagued every day by poor dental health,” said Michael. “Her poor oral health negatively impacts her both physically and emotionally. The physical pain distracts her on a daily basis and the constant teasing from her peers erodes her self-esteem.”
He noted, “The opportunity to participate in Tomorrow’s SMILES would mean the world to her, and she deserves it.” Michael gave Haley the program application and she returned it to him the very next day.
She was so excited about the possibility of finally having a beautiful, pain-free smile that she made a special trip to the club just to turn in her application. “It would be a big honor if the Tomorrow’s SMILES program helped me with my teeth,” said Haley. “This would help me to improve my people skills and my school work because I wouldn’t have to think about my teeth hurting so much and could concentrate more on school. Please help me.”
Thanks to Laurie Gordon, D.D.S. and Neil Warshawsky, D.D.S., members of Alpha Omega International Dental Fraternity and volunteer Tomorrow’s SMILES dentists, Haley’s life is about to change.
“It is a pleasure taking care of her. Thank you for the opportunity to help her through Tomorrow’s SMILES,” noted Dr. Laurie Gordon about her experience with the program. With their help, Hayley will be able to laugh and smile without worrying about being the object of harsh jokes and nicknames.
In return for life-changing oral health services, Haley will Pay It Forward by teaching oral health lessons to young children in her community. As Tomorrow’s SMILES teens give back by serving as mentors and teachers to children, they will help break the cycle of pediatric dental disease.
You can help transform a teen’s needless pain and suffering into a 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer to save a smile and change a teen’s life today!