Recognizing Service and Commitment

by Catherine Wilson, Editor

Gracemarie Stephens, age 46, endured domestic violence attacks for 24 years. Married at 16, she incurred her first domestic violence beating when she was 18-years-old. Although the beatings continued, she stayed with her husband for 15 years, thereafter drifting in and out of violent domestic relationships.

Five years ago, Stephens courageously left that painful life behind and began to slowly rebuild her life and self-esteem. In 1997, she met a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

Over a period of 18 months, the damage done to Stephens’ teeth was corrected free-of-charge. The physical and mental changes are dramatic. This dental work not only had a lasting effect on her appearance, but it has helped her gain confidence to turn her life around, get a job, a place to live, lose more than 100 pounds and learn to smile again.

Stephens is now a spokesperson for “Give Back a Smile”, the program launched by the AACD in 1999. Since its inception, 83 cases have been completed and 167 are pending. More than 900 AACD dentists, lab technicians, and other dental professionals have volunteered their time and expertise pro bono for the program. Dental Services Group of Toronto and Baluke Dental Studios are two Canadian participants.

Christina’s Smile Children’s Dental Clinic is a program designed to deliver quality dental care to disadvantaged children in communities that host a PGA or Senior PGA Tour event. The Clinic has provided approximately $8 million worth of dental care at no cost to more than 24,000 children in need since its inception in 1990. In 2002, 20 clinics will be conducted to treat more than 2,400 children and provide approximately $1 million worth of dentistry to children who might not otherwise receive the care they desperately need.

Local dentists and assistants volunteer their time and talent to deliver quality charitable dental care to 120 children between the ages of 6 to 16 at each Clinic in each city.

Approximately $40,000 to $50,000 worth of dentistry is delivered during each three-day clinic.

The mobile clinics are 48-foot trailers and each houses three fully-equipped, state-of-the-art dental treatment operatories, along with x-ray and sterilization equipment.

During the Chicago Dental Meeting, “Keep America Smiling”, a program launched by Ivoclar Vivadent (see News pg. 6) honored these and other organizations, all doing extraordinary work. Those honored, and undoubtedly many, many more, are deserving of every accolade.