'I look semi-normal now:' veteran jokes after free dental work
In a story straight from the heart, one dental office had veterans feeling better about their smiles on Friday, and it was all for free.
For some, the sound of a dental drill boring into your favorite tooth might be the sound from a nightmare.
But for navy veteran Darren Williams, his trip to the dentist's office was a good way to spend a Friday.
“It's a big help, big help. I mean I don't know any other place where we could get work done like this for veterans, so it's a big help,” Williams said after his appointment.
Williams was one of 74 patients that had appointments for free dental work. Family Dental Associates in Warner Robins is in their third year of making 'Veterans Smile Day' a reality. On the one day each year, they let veterans make appointments for free.
Over the years, they say they've given away more than $200,000 worth of care and have helped more than 200 veterans.
Dr. Alex Bell says it's about giving back.
“We're looking for the veterans who have just fallen between the cracks, that do not qualify for VA Dental benefits, that no longer have dental benefits through their employment, or they're homeless,” Bell explained.
Williams, who needed work done on his top front teeth and does not have VA dental insurance, approved of his new look.
“Very happy and I'm very thankful. Very thankful,” and he joked in the chair, it made him look more normal.
And like many in Warner Robins, Bell says helping out veterans is a family affair.
“My father was a veteran, a World War II veteran, and he passed away two years ago and this was a way we kind of honored him, he was a dentist, he came here in 1954,” Bell said.
Honoring the red, white and blue by polishing the pearly whites of those that defend it.
It doesn’t end on Friday; Bell says any follow-up appointments the veterans need are also included for free. Family Dental Associates says they helped veterans from Atlanta, Savannah and even South Carolina on Friday.