National Children's Oral Health Foundation's Tomorrow's SMILES program helps another teen

September 13, 2012

Haley was a bright teen with a broken smile. She encountered bullies on a daily basis who teased her and called her names like "Hillbilly Hick Haley."

Haley was a bright teen with a broken smile. She encountered bullies on a daily basis who teased her and called her names like "Hillbilly Hick Haley."

Haley hid her smile and laughter by covering her mouth with her hands.

“I try not to smile or laugh very often,” Haley said. “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."

In addition to barrage of ridicule from her peers, Haley endured severe, physical pain, too.

In fact, her teeth hurt so much that it disrupted her studies and made it very difficult for her to concentrate while taking an exam. She tried chewing on pen caps and clenching her teeth to distract herself from the pain, but that offered little relief. Her parents wished for nothing more than to be able to help their daughter, but they had been unable to secure steady employment. Haley’s dental needs fell to the bottom of a long list of priorities as they struggled to provide basic necessities like food and shelter for their family.

Michael, a Teen REACH Coordinator at Haley's local Boys & Girls Club, saw a talented, promising teen suffering from pain and humiliation. He contacted Tomorrow's SMILES for help.

Sponsored by the Patterson Foundation and Philips Sonicare, Tomorrow's SMILES is a National Children's Oral Health Foundation: America's ToothFairy program that provides at-risk adolescents with comprehensive oral health services to help prepare them for healthy and productive futures. As part of the program, volunteer dentists provide pro-bono restorative services for an underserved teenager. The program has access to generously donated products from Invisalign and Nobel Biocare.

“She is a remarkable young woman who is plagued every day by poor dental health,” Michael said. “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 prospect of having a healthy, pain free smile that she returned her completed application the very next day…and it was a Saturday! 

“If I had straight and healthy teeth, I could laugh and smile without feeling so uncomfortable,” Haley said. “It would be a big honor if the Tomorrow’s SMILES program helped me with my teeth.”

Thanks to Laurie Gordon, DDS and Neil Warshawsky, DDS, members of Alpha Omega International Dental Fraternity and volunteer Tomorrow’s SMILES dentists, Haley’s life is about to change. 

With their help, Hayley will soon be able to proudly show her healthy, straight teeth when she laughs and smiles.

“It is a pleasure taking care of her," saiid Dr. Gordon. "Thank you for the opportunity to help her through Tomorrow’s SMILES."

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.