Porcelain Veneers Help Put Abuse in the Past
By Sarah Scorgie
Published on May 03, 2011
Give Back a Smile, the charitable foundation established by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, is now on Facebook. GBAS hit the social networking site in mid-April to raise awareness about domestic violence and the humanitarian efforts of the volunteer dentists participating in their life-changing project.
What Is "Give Back a Smile"?
Dedicated to "changing lives, one smile at a time," Give Back a Smile enlists the help of volunteer cosmetic dentists throughout the United States and Canada to restore the smiles of victims of domestic violence. While many understand that abuse causes both emotional and physical pain of incredible magnitude, it's not often that we stop to think about the long-term effects of domestic violence. While bruises may eventually heal, trauma to the jaw may result in broken, chipped, or missing teeth that require an extensive amount of dental work to repair. Because domestic violence often harms survivors financially as well, many women are not in a position to pay for the dental treatments they so urgently need. By offering cosmetic and restorative dentistry at no cost, participating dentists help women reclaim their self-esteem and rebuild their lives.
Making a Difference With Cosmetic Dentistry
Since the program's inception in 1999, over 900 survivors of domestic abuse have received dental treatments worth over $9 million. Currently, approximately 380 women are receiving life-changing treatment. Testimonials from patients reveal how porcelain veneers, dental implants, crowns, and other cosmetic dentistry treatments gave them the attractive smiles necessary to return to the work force, and to see themselves as survivors rather than victims.
While volunteer dentists restore participants' mouths to health, it's the aesthetic transformation that seems to resonate most powerfully with survivors. Take this common cosmetic dentistry procedure as an example: porcelain veneers cover the surfaces of teeth that have been severely stained, chipped, or cracked, restoring a beautiful, flawless appearance. The attractive finish not only protects underlying teeth, but gives women confidence when they look in the mirror. For survivors, this simple procedure puts them one step closer to eradicating the memory of abuse.
Who is a Candidate?
Individuals who may be eligible to participate in Give Back a Smile are encouraged to contact the organization using their toll-free hotline: (800) 773-GBAS. Qualifying men and women are those who have sustained smile-zone injuries as a result of domestic violence, and have been out of the abusive relationship for at least one year. After a counselor, domestic violence advocate, or social worker fills out an "advocate" form, Give Back a Smile will review the patient's application. If eligible, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry will connect the patient with a participating dentist, who will restore the smile at no charge.
How Do I Get Involved?
If you aren't a dentist but would like to help, consider participating in Give Back a Smile's whitening fundraiser. Discus DentalTM, the makers of ZOOM!® teeth whitening treatments, has donated whitening kits to participating dentists across the country. One hundred percent of the kits' proceeds directly benefit GBAS programs, funding more dental work for survivors of abuse. Contact a cosmetic dentist in your area to see if they participate.
Thanks to the efforts of participating dental practices, cosmetic dentistry does more than build beautiful smiles-it helps survivors of abuse reclaim their lives. Check out the new GBAS page on Facebook, and help build public awareness for this worthy cause.