“Give Back a Smile”

Healthy Smiles by Rita Tempel, DDS – This column originally published in The Gettysburg Times, September 20, 2017

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and I want to focus this month’s column on an aspect of domestic violence that is often overlooked or unrecognized—the dental injuries sustained by many women or men. Although it is not yet October, I want to spread the word about a life-changing program, in hopes that area residents may be encouraged to come forward and have their smiles repaired and thereby, have their confidence and lives restored.

My dental practice is affiliated with a charitable program offered by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry called “Give Back a Smile.” If you or someone you know have sustained dental injuries from a former partner or spouse, please read the following guidelines and encourage her/him to apply for free dental work. First, the applicant must be free from all abusive relationships, and in a different home from the abuser, for at least a year. That means the injuries must have happened at least one year ago.

“Give Back a Smile” helps repair some of the worse dental injuries a person can experience—injuries to the front teeth. These are the teeth that we typically see when people smile. There are so many ways that domestic violence can damage a person. Losing the desire to smile, I believe, has one of the most tragic effects on a person’s life.

The Give Back a Smile application process starts by finding the application online at www.aacd.com/aboutGBAS. I will also be posting links from my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/GettysburgSmiles. Please share the links or posts on social media to help spread the word.

The applicant will need to complete the application with their domestic violence or sexual assault advocate, case manager, counselor, faith leaders, therapist or doctor. Once the application is received by the Give Back a Smile charity, applicants will be notified within 30 days and matched up with a dental provider. I’m honored to be the volunteer dental provider for our area, and I’m honored to have helped restore smiles to numerous patients with the desire to reclaim their smiles and their lives.

I will leave you with a testimonial from a Give Back a Smile patient named Mona:

“It was the day after Valentine’s when the man I thought loved me shot me at close range. My jaw was shattered and my palate severely damaged… I was devastated… and disfigured. While grateful to be alive, my face had become a gruesome and inescapable reminder of one person’s brutality. That all changed when I was given the phone number for Give Back a Smile. (They) were able to return to me the smile that had been so violently stolen.”

Dr. Rita Tempel is the owner and founder of Gettysburg Smiles, a cosmetic and family dental practice located at 2018 York Road (Route 30 East), Gettysburg. She is a Sustaining Member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. For more information, see GettysburgSmiles.com, follow Gettysburg Smiles on Facebook, or call 717-339-0033.

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