Meet Zeb, a promising Brooklyn high school student who once suffered pain and embarrassment from the effects of poor oral health. He dreaded getting his photo taken and meeting new people, fearing ridicule once they saw his unsightly smile.Facing an uncertain future and feeling his dreams of a better life slipping away, he said, “I wish I could smile without feeling ashamed.” His damaged self-esteem and shaken confidence were holding him back. He wondered how he could become successful in life if he was too ashamed to smile confidently in an interview situation.
Zeb beforeLacking the resources to get the dental treatment he desperately needed, Zeb and his mother turned to Tomorrow’s SMILES®, a teen program of the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation: America’s Toothfairy® (NCOHF), for help.Through this NCOHF program, Zeb was introduced to Dr. Anthony Ramirez and his team. Little did he realize just how much this Tomorrow’s SMILES volunteer dentist and his team would change his life. His journey to a happy, healthy future was about to begin.Poor oral health can be devastating for an adolescent struggling to fit in and prepare for a successful future. Zeb is not alone in this struggle. In fact, 23% of adolescents aged 12 to 19 years have untreated decay. Distracted by pain and embarrassment, simple things like concentrating in school or making friends become tremendous challenges for these teens, hindering their academic and social development. Even more disturbing are the effects this can have on their future. Their struggles of today can shatter their hopes and dreams for their future.Tomorrow’s SMILES was designed to give teens like Zeb the building blocks they need for healthy, productive futures by providing them with life-changing oral health services. Through this innovative program sponsored by the Patterson Foundation, volunteer dentists provide pro bono services to promising at-risk teens in their community, restoring their self-esteem and encouraging them to take responsibility for their oral health. Tomorrow’s SMILES volunteer dentists also have access to generously donated products from Invisalign® and Nobel Biocare™ (including Procera®) to help restore the smiles of pre-screened, promising teens.
Zeb afterIn return for receiving this life-changing care, participating teens Pay It Forward by sharing their newfound oral health knowledge through engaging oral health lessons with younger children in their community. Pay It Forward enables these teens to serve as mentors and teachers to children, encouraging good oral health habits that will help them maintain beautiful, happy smiles throughout their lives and help to break the cycle of pediatric dental disease in their own community. As a teen mentor, Zeb enjoyed teaching children how to care for their teeth because he didn’t want them to go through what he did. The children had so much fun that they even asked him to teach the lessons again!Tomorrow’s SMILES volunteer dentists and their teams truly make a difference in the young lives they touch. “I really want them to understand how much of an impact they have had on my life. Without their help, I would not be the person I am today, with the confidence to take on any challenge,” said Zeb about Dr. Anthony Ramirez and his team.
Zeb and Dr. Anthony RamirezZeb is now attending his first year of college on a full scholarship. “I have been blessed with an incredible gift,” remarked Zeb about his restored, beautiful smile and renewed hope for a future filled with possibilities ahead. You can help transform a teen’s needless pain and suffering into a happy, beautiful smile and the promise of a brighter future by encouraging your practice to volunteer services for Tomorrow’s SMILES. Visit www.TomorrowsSMILES.org or email Brenda Woodington at [email protected] to learn more about this life-changing program!