An area orthodontist intends to donate his time and services to improve the smiles of those who can't afford the cost of braces.
Dr. David Carter of Carter Orthodontics recently initiated A Smile For a Lifetime Inc. chapter that will provide braces at no cost for adults and children unable to pay for the $6,000 process and living in one of 13 counties in the CSRA.
"God put this on my heart last fall," Carter said. "This is something I really want to do, and he's not letting me sleep until I get this thing done."
Carter, who recently was elected president of the foundation's national board, said he will start the program by providing two patients each month with free braces and treatment.
The first set of braces will be awarded in June, he said, and the program will mainly be aimed at children.
After previously working for Carter, the chapter's executive director, Allyson Davis, returned to the office this year as a patient coordinator. She said she was thrilled to help out with the foundation.
"It's a great way for me to be involved in something that I know a lot about and I love," she said.
Applicants will be selected on a financial and orthodontic need as well as on a situational basis. A local board of 11 area orthodontic and dental professionals, in addition to community leaders, will choose those to be treated. Carter said he will be a nonvoting member of the board.
Children selected for the treatment will be picked up in the "Brace Bus," a yellow Hummer, and brought to one of Carter's three offices in Martinez, North Augusta and Aiken. Carter said he will only see those two children on the day their braces are put on.
"That first day, it's going to be a big deal for them," he said. "I want to make sure that they realize this is all about them."
The board will meet quarterly to select patients. Because the program is ongoing, there is no deadline for applications.
Two letters of recommendations and a smiling, not dental, photograph of an applicant are needed, said Davis, adding that anyone can nominate a prospective patient.
"You get to know their families," she said. "You have kids that come in and see you years after their treatment, so it's really about changing their whole life."
Donations will soon be accepted on Carter Orthodontic's Web site at www.nusmiles.com. Funds also will be donated to the organization by current patients who lose their first retainer and must pay for another.
There currently are only a few other chapters, in California and Arkansas, in operation, according to the national foundation's Web site.
As the organization grows, Carter said he not only wants to provide his patients with self-confidence, but also hopes to expand its reach by involving other medical professionals in the community.
"I really hope some of the orthodontists will join in and be a part of the foundation," he said.
Applications and guidelines can be found at www.nusmiles.com.
For information, visit www.smileforalifetimefoundation.com or contact Davis at (706) 836-4464 or email@example.com.
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