Starr Orthodontics offers free braces to low-income residents in Union County
by Kara Lopp
Amber Guy’s always been shy about sharing her smile.
She’s well on her way to reversing that trend.
Guy, 17, is one of two patients Starr Orthodontics in Matthews has chosen recently to give free braces through Smile for a Lifetime, a Colorado-based national nonprofit that partners with doctors to offer free procedures, like braces, to people who can’t afford them. Doctors Gary Starr and Steven Dickens recently created their own nonprofit chapter to serve low-income residents in Union County, Matthews and Mint Hill. The office at 1326 Matthews Township Pkwy. is one of only three area orthodontists to join. J.D. Kisella of Kisella Surgery Center in Matthews has offered free oral surgery services for the program.
The chapter, which focuses on serving patients 21 and younger, includes a volunteer board of community members who screen and select recipients based on photos of their smile and an online application, available at www.starrortho.com/smile-for-a-lifetime.php. Though the chapter is required to select at least six patients a year to receive free treatment, the doctors hope to at least double that effort.
So far, the office has received six applications and has begun treating two patients: Guy and an 8-year-old from Mint Hill.
Guy, a Parkwood High School student, said she went to at least five orthodontists asking for help to fix her terribly crooked teeth. Only Starr Orthodontics answered that call through the program. She found out about Smile for a Lifetime from her dentist.
After her father, who has a blood disease, had a stroke three years ago the family has been living on a fixed income and caring for a father on disability, Guy said. There’s no way she could afford braces. She’ll get them in about four months, as a the metal extender now preps her mouth for braces.
“It’s hard having crooked teeth. I was shy,” Guy said. “Now I’ve got metal in my mouth and I can say my teeth are being fixed. Dr. starr is awesome. He’s just all fun and so is Dr. dickens. They’re just all family. They make you feel at home there. I hope other kids who are like me can benefit (from the program).
Low-income residents in Union County, Matthews and Mint Hill and can fill out an online application for free braces at www.starrortho.com/smile-for-a-lifetime.php.
For more information or if you have questions, call 704-845-0600 or e-mail email@example.com.
Find more information online about Smile for a Lifetime at www.s4l.org.