“It’s good to see people helping the community, since some of the most basic necessities, such as dental and vision care, are also are some of the most expensive in this country,” said Miriam Maltes. “I also appreciate the professionals who are providing this type of help for people in need.”

Dr. Thomas Emeterio, a member of SEAL Team 1 (Paraguay) consulting Miriam Maltes outside the Lestonnac Free Clinic, hosted by Lighthouse Church in Costa Mesa, Calif. and sponsored by the Smiles for Everyone Foundation

 

Miriam was one of 300 people who went to the Lestonnac Free Clinic, hosted by Lighthouse Church in Costa Mesa, Calif., hoping to receive care for their medical, dental and vision needs. Last November, the Smiles for Everyone Foundation helped connect the Lestonnac organization with about a dozen Smile Brands employee and affiliated provider volunteers for a similar event in Anaheim, Calif. This time, Lestonnac reached out to Dr. Thomas Emeterio, a member of SEAL Team 1 (Paraguay) who participated in the Anaheim event, when they discovered they needed extra dental help for this March 23 event.

Maria Osorio, Registered Dental Assistant from Bright Now! Dental in Eastvale, Calif. and Dr. Mikako Kuga, from the Fontana, Calif., Bright Now! Dental office.

“I really appreciate the people who joined me that day,” says Dr. Emeterio. “Maria Osorio, Registered Dental Assistant from Bright Now! Dental in Eastvale, Calif., made everyone in line feel special. I also want to thank Dr. Mikako Kuga, from the Fontana, Calif., Bright Now! Dental office and Heather Kent from Smile Brands corporate office in Irvine, Calif., for their wonderful support.”

In just eight hours, Drs. Emerterio and Kuga, plus eight additional dentists not affiliated with Smile Brands, were able to treat 119 patients, performing 145 fillings and extractions in 13 mobile operatories set up at the church. Although many patients lined up as early as six that morning, all were grateful for the care they received, since many had not seen a dentist in ages, due to lack of money or dental insurance.

Krystal Canning and Cody Summers inside the Lestonnac Free Clinic after Cody received treatment.

Creating Smiles for those in Need

When Krystal Canning heard about the dental clinic, she decided to take her sister Kayla and boyfriend Cody Summers for treatment. They are all in their 20s and employed, but because they don’t have dental insurance through their jobs, they were unable to afford dental care elsewhere. Kayla had a tooth filled and Cody had a tooth extracted. “We’re so grateful for the dental volunteers and staff helping us out. They did a great job!” said Krystal.

John Zehren waiting for treatment outside the Lighthouse Church the day of the Lestonnac Free Clinic.

“This is a great event, providing service for people that can’t afford dental care during the tough economic times we’re in,” said John Zehren. “I’ve had a pretty tough time economically the last couple of years and have not been to a dentist in a long time. I’ve got dental work that needs doing, so when I heard about this event last night, I knew I had to come. I’m very grateful.”

Richard Castro in line outside the Lighthouse Church.

Richard Castro, recently released from prison and homeless, heard about the event from his parole officer. “I’m here today for dental and possibly medical because I have no money,” he explained. “I’m really grateful for being here and for this free medical and dental care.”

Dakto Tofi, almost inside the clinic and ready to receive treatment.

Patient Dakto Tofi had been suffering from tooth pain for years when he came to the clinic for dental care. “I’m so appreciative that these nice, kind people are here today to assist me with my teeth. My experience has been horrible, growing up with these teeth. I’ve had major, major, major toothaches. Sometimes it drives me crazy. I can’t sleep at night. Sometimes I have to sing to myself to take the pain away.” With the treatment he received that day, perhaps Dakto is now singing happy songs!

Register Dental Assistant Maria Osorio

Maria Osorio, Registered Dental Assistant from Bright Now! Dental in Eastvale, Calif.

Helping Others Makes this Volunteer Smile

“When I arrived, I was amazed to see the long line of people waiting,” recalls dental assistant Maria Osario. “In the morning, I assisted Dr. Emeterio with dental evaluations and in the afternoon I assisted other dentists with patient treatment. It was amazing to see the dedication the dental and medical staff gave to this great cause. This brought a smile to my face and joy to my heart.

“I currently work at the Bright Now! Dental office in Eastvale and would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to my colleagues at that office – Sergio Robles, Office Manager, and Heather Quinto, Lead RDA – for making me aware of this opportunity to make a difference. It was my first time attending the event but definitely will not be my last.”