Local orthodontists offer hope and help to those in need | Dr. Rich

  • Friday, October 6, 2017 10:30am
  • Opinion

Children in our community have the opportunity to receive much needed orthodontic care, regardless of their family’s ability to afford treatment.

As a general dentist for 30 years, I have met many talented and generous people, in and out of my practice.

Rick and Aaron Molen, are among the most generous.

The Auburn duo and seasoned orthodontists have always given back to their community, building on the legacy of their father, Bruce, who practiced in the community for decades. Looking for a way to broaden their impact, they started in 2015 a local chapter of the national nonprofit organization, Smile for a Lifetime Foundation.

The charitable effort provides free orthodontic care to children between 11 and 18 years of age who may not have the opportunity to acquire help any other way. Launched in 2008, the foundation aims to reach individuals with financial challenges, special situations and orthodontic needs. The foundation sponsors the orthodontic care of hundreds of patients each year through local chapters.

It is humbling to serve as a volunteer board member on the foundation and read through the applications we receive.

The gift of a healthy and beautiful smile for your child or someone you know could have a major effect on their self-confidence, and may well impact the trajectory of their life.

Many people consider orthodontic treatment – or “braces” as most people call them – as a cosmetic luxury that results in a nice smile, but really isn’t necessary otherwise. While orthodontic care certainly does result in a cosmetically pleasing smile, that is far from the only reason to have the treatment.

Misaligned teeth are far more susceptible to severe injury and even loss on the playground, will more easily develop gum disease and decay and can seriously undermine a child’s confidence as they navigate the tumultuous teen years. Kids’ tendencies to not always consider the impact of their teasing about another’s appearance can result in some very cruel and lasting damage to a classmate’s self-confidence.

Many area middle school and high school nurses and principals are aware of this program and would be happy to help you obtain an application. The board meets again in mid-October to select the next three scholarship recipients, so it is important that you get the application completed and submitted soon. The next round of selections won’t take place spring.

If you are interested in learning more or seeing photos of the scholarship recipients currently in treatment, I encourage you to go to organization’s Facebook page and “like or “share” it with others to help us spread the word.

To date, the board has selected nine children out of the applications received, and all of them are now in treatment. Molen Orthodontics has committed to begin treatment on an additional three children every six months. This is a significant commitment of skills and resources, as treatment time ranges from 18 months to several years for each child treated, depending on the severity of the orthodontic issues to be addressed.

They have also recruited several area pediatric and general dentists and local oral surgeon (and brother) David Molen, to help in providing cleanings, fillings and extractions, should they be necessary.

I know many who have benefited by receiving a “Molen Magic” smile, and can personally attest to the quality of care and personal caring these children will receive, since my sons and I have also been patients.

To be able to impact the life of a child in such a profound way, blesses the recipient and the giver. In today’s world, it’s refreshing to see some good news.

Dr. Stuart Rich, a local dentist, has been a regular contributor to the Auburn Reporter for more than 10 years on various dental health topics. He is the former owner of Simply Smiles in Auburn, and retired from general practice in 2016 to focus exclusively on dental sleep medicine. He owns Sleep Solutions Northwest (www.SleepSolutionsNW.com) and works in collaboration with area sleep physicians to offer an alternative to those who are unable or unwilling to wear a CPAP machine to treat their sleep apnea.

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