Making a difference: Tomorrow's SMILES

March 21, 2012

December 3, 2009 | dentalproductsreport.comTop 100 Exclusive Tomorrow’s SMILESDr. Ronald Goldstein - Atlanta dentist

December 3, 2009 | dentalproductsreport.com
Top 100 Exclusive

Tomorrow’s SMILES

Dr. Ronald Goldstein - Atlanta dentist

Photo: Dr. Ronald Goldstein

Dr. Ronald Goldstein’s father taught him plenty over the years, and he certainly taught him some dentistry along the way. But one thing the older Goldstein made sure his son learned was the importance of giving back.

Because of this, the 50-year practicing cosmetic dentist decided last year, right around the time he turned 75, to contribute a sizable donation to allow the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation to launch Tomorrow’s SMILES. The program, aimed at high school students, provides oral health services to help promising at-risk students be better prepared for happy, healthy and productive futures.

“My father went into practice in 1929, the year of the great depression,” Dr. Goldstein said. “He grew up fairly poor and he worked a milk route at 4 in the morning and then he went to dental school at 7 in the morning. He supported himself through school, was a self-made man and he was the most philanthropic person throughout his lifetime. If a patient couldn’t pay, that was it, he would write it off. That’s just the way he was. He taught me the benefits of being philanthropic. You have to be taught that and I had a good teacher.”

With that upbringing, Dr. Goldstein has always taken on patients who could not afford to pay, but who really had a need for esthetics. He recalls many instances where a child with poor oral esthetics would experience a drop-off in both school grades and social skills. “When you can take a kid who was a fairly good student and breaks a tooth and kids begin to call her names, she becomes anti-social and her grades fall,” he said. “One of the agencies sends her to me and I fix it in one appointment and her grades go up and it’s a different life for her.”

Dr. Goldstein, who lectures around the world, hopes to have this philosophy carry over into similar programs around the country and internationally. “This (esthetic care) changes everyone’s life around,” he said. “I wanted to see if we could get this philosophy spread across America and really internationally. Now we want to spread the word throughout the world so I thought let’s try and do it with charity as well, try and give back as much as we can.”

With the help of a $1000,000 grant from Dr. Goldstein and the organizational support of the NCOHF, the program can focus on teenagers who may be able to get their lives more on track with some much-needed cosmetic dental care. “I wanted something to go to the children, to go to these teenagers because they’re the ones who fall through the cracks,” he said. “Many times they get left out and they become anti-social. They need it for their job, they need it for success in life, so that’s why we started Tomorrow’s SMILES.”

With the NCOHF handling the administrative costs, all of the donations to the program go straight to taking care of the kids. Dr. Goldstein said manufacturers do a good job supporting it-and a number of donated Invisalign cases already have helped improve the smiles and lives of teens. Dr. Goldstein said labs, too, can play a big role by taking on some free cases for area patients.

Dr. Goldstein does ask for something in return from the children, and that is they must go forward and help others the way they’ve been helped. “They have to agree to ‘Pay it Forward’ and the program makes that clear. When I finished one girl’s case and I told her she had an obligation to help others, she said ‘I would LOVE to.’ ”
He added that this girl went from someone afraid to smile to someone confident enough to compete in a beauty contest.

Those interested in donating services, products or money can contact the NCOHF or visit the program’s Web site at tomorrowssmiles.org

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