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National program gives dental work to survivors of domestic violence

Leigh Ann Laube • Jan 15, 2011 at 2:43 AM

In 16 years of marriage, Christina Love never had a family portrait taken. “It was just too chaotic to care,” she said. Out of that marriage now — and out of the abuse that came with it — a portrait taken last fall of Love and her two sons, 19-year-old Nathan Kraatz and 7-year-old Caleb Denbow, hangs on the wall of their home. In it, Love is flashing a big smile, a smile courtesy of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry’s (AACD) Give Back a Smile program.Love’s marriage included years of neglect on her mouth, enough that her smile, and her self-confidence, were gone. In October 2009, during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, she heard a radio commercial for Give Back a Smile.Give Back a Smile, launched in May 1999, was developed to address a need in the communities of AACD members. Volunteer dentists and laboratory technicians agree to restore the broken and damaged teeth in the smile-zone of survivors of intimate partner violence. Since 1999, AACD dentists, laboratory technicians and other dental professionals have volunteered their time and expertise pro bono to restore the smiles of more than 1,000 domestic abuse survivors for a total dollar value of nearly $10 million.Love was approved for the program and matched with cosmetic dentist Kathy Sanders, an accredited member of the AACD, and a member of the Tennessee Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and the American Dental Association.Read the expanded version of this report in the print edition or the enhanced electronic version of the Kingsport Times-News.

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