Smiling is something we take for granted.
For those who can’t afford to go to a dentist, smiling could be an issue. That’s where the Georgia School of Orthodontics steps in with their Gift of a Smile program.
Built from the ground up, GSO began in Sandy Springs with 18 residents [dentists] three years ago.
Gift of a Smile program coincided with the residency program, promising to provide $100,000 in complimentary orthodontic care over the course of the three-year period, according to Chairman and President of the Board of Trustees for GSO, Dr. Randy Kluender.
“One of the mission areas of the program,” he said, “is to provide service back to the Atlanta community, offering reduced dental care and identifying kids in need.
“Fees are about 40% less than what traditional private practice (orthodontists) would charge, making it more affordable particularly in instances where there are families with multiple children or even adults,” said Kluender.
This year about 200 students applied for GSO’s Gift of a Smile program. Having a selection committee and process doesn’t make it any easier in narrowing down to four students.
“It is heart wrenching because so many are worthy of receiving the care we give,” said Kluender.
One of this year’s recipients, Nicoli Alcantara said, “Just because my teeth are crooked, doesn’t make me less beautiful. It actually makes my smile unique.”
Due to the success of the Gift of a Smile program, the Purple Hearts Smiles program was created.
Open year-round , free orthodontic care is provided to children of Purple Heart veterans.
GSO has exceeded their promised amount, totaling $118,800 and treating 36 students in the combined programs, according to Kluender.
“We encourage our residents upon graduation that they consider giving back in some way to their community wherever they land so that they recognize the impact that a program like this has on people’s lives, Kluender said.
“The kids are so grateful to have this opportunity because they are teased,” he said, “and the impact that orthodontics has on especially developing adolescents is second to none when it comes to development of a child’s well being.”
For more information, visit www.bracestoday.com.
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