I have always had a great respect for veterans. My father was a WWII veteran having served in the South Pacific and my brother is a Vietnam vet. My brother has always been active in several Veteran organizations, working his way through the chairs to become the Ohio President of the Combat Infantrymen’s Association and National Finance Officer.
Tom with his new smile.
Several years ago he started The Callen Foundation to help military families with short term needs (www. thecallenfoundation.com). 100% of the donations go to retired and active duty military and their families. They work closely with the Ohio National Guard and have been given several awards for their work from the Guard.
I donate to the foundation on a regular basis, but wanted to do more. This led to a great promotion we just finished. The promotion was to have a “Make a Vet Smile” contest. We announced and promoted the contest through our office Facebook page asking for nominations of veterans in need of a new smile who were not able to afford the dental care they desired. The local Catholic Charities offered to screen the candidates for us.
After about 6 weeks of promotion, 2 applicants stood out, so we elected to help both of them. As a condition of the contest, the winners had to allow us to use their clinical and portrait pictures in promotions.
The first was, Tom who was a retired vet who was edentulous and only had an older maxillary denture that he did not wear anymore. He never could afford a mandibular denture. The local lab we use for dentures was great and helped us by fabricating the case for half our normal charge.
The second veteran, John had a series of medical problems so he had let his teeth go for the last seven years. He also had never liked his Class II division II smile. We treatment planned some fillings, bleaching, a posterior root canal, one posterior crown and full and ¾ crowns in the anterior. I splinted 6-7 using a zirconia framework with E max porcelain. The other crowns were all E max.
We started with study models which we built up with composite to a more normal tooth position. Then we fabricated a vaccuform which was taken to the mouth filled with Activa dual cure composite/glass ionomer and bonded to the teeth. This served as a guide for the preparations.
This really was a fairly straight forward case, but for John it was a pretty big deal. We provided about $12,000 worth of free dentistry to John, who cried when we placed the temporaries. Now not only can he chew pain free, he walks around with a big smile.
At one of the follow-up appointments, we had both vets meet with a reporter from the local newspaper, who was excited to interview them for a piece for the Memorial Day paper. The reporter spent a few minutes with me getting some background and then did in-depth interviews with both patients. We presented both of them with nice framed portraits, which they held by their sides in the pictures.
Not only did we help a couple of great guys, but the positive public relations will go a long way. We have already started posting pictures of the cases on our Facebook page. This was really a fun promotion and the whole staff enjoyed helping, so we plan on doing this every year.
Feel good stories get a lot of positive attention on social media. A contest like this allows you to help others and get some free promotion for your office at the same time.