According to the ADA, a person’s most important physical feature is their smile, outranking the eyes, hair, and body. Now, some veterans are able to regain their confidence and show off their smile with the program Salute to Smiles.
The Wisconsin oral surgery center, Bay Oral Surgery and Implant Center is giving local veterans some much needed help with their painful dental problems.
Salute to Smiles is a program designed to bring together veterans with dentists with military backgrounds to provide life-changing dental procedures.
This program was inspired by Bay Oral Surgery’s ex-military oral surgeons, Dr. Charles Ellis, Dr. David LeMoine, and Dr. Bradley Koch. Together everyone participating in this event has 125 years worth of service in all branches of the military.
Dr. LeMoine tells NBC26, “It’s really nice to be able to give back to the veterans. They’ve served so much and they came back with not so warm a reception from the Vietnam time.” He believes giving free restorative dental care to his comrades in arms who cannot afford it is a great opportunity.
For Michael Schuenke, a 23-year Air Force and Navy veteran, he finds it incredibly difficult to get proper dental treatment through the Veterans Affairs insurance plans. He only went to the dentist when the pain was almost unbearable, and as a result was chewing food with his two front teeth because he had only one chewing tooth left.
Roughly 92% of adults agree that a beautiful smile is an important social asset. Schuenke applied after hearing about Salute to Smiles, and was one of the six veterans accepted into the program. He is now on a four-month oral treatment plan that includes crowns, an implant, and dentures.
All his efforts are made worthwhile when Dr. LeMoine sees his patients regain their confidence and quality of living. He attributes it to veterans helping veterans.
The dental procedures typically cost over thousands of dollars, but because of Salute to Smiles, the six veterans will never see a bill.