By: Nancy Lashley Sullivan
Chair, Board of Trustees, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry Charitable Foundation
Paige drove four hours from the high desert to arrive at our small dental practice nestled against the hills cradling the southern Willamette Valley in Oregon. She had survived forty years of inexplicable violence and - against all odds - had left her entire life behind, including her smile. Oregon is a haven of domestic violence so there is no shortage of survivors qualified to have their smiles - and their lives - restored through the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) Charitable Foundation’s “Give Back A Smile”. As long time members of the AACD, we’d earned a reputation as the “extreme Give Back A Smile dentist”, always ready for the next smile to be revealed and the next life renewed.
Paige arrived that day with only gums, barely surviving, trying to eat and speak and exist without dentures. It’s such an easy fix to fabricate a beautiful set of dentures, but what she said as we spoke with her at that first visit haunts us still. “I am so excited that I’ll finally be able to leave the house!,” she said. She went on to explain as punishment for a failed attempt at taking her life back years earlier, her abuser had taken away her dentures and with that her freedom. More than any fancy cosmetic smile makeover we’ve done, we will always remember her tears of joy the day she took her smile, and freedom, back.
Give Back A Smile has restored the smiles of survivors of domestic and sexual violence for 20 years, working with over 1700 clients and delivering in excess of $16 million dollars in treatment. Our contribution as just one small volunteer practice in Oregon is relatively small, but if all of us work together, combining our talent and skill, there is no limit to the change we could make, right in your own backyard. If you’re looking for more purpose in your profession, learn more about how you can restore lives at www.givebackasmile.com.