The Dawson Academy Blog

Dental Articles on Occlusion, Centric Relation, Restorative Dentistry & More

A New Smile Takes Flight

Covering his mouth when he smiled, Tyler barely spoke.  He had difficulty chewing his food so he refrained from eating in public whenever possible.   Although he was in desperate need of dental treatment, he had not seen a dentist in many years.  Unable to work, his mother is on dialysis several times a week and his father, a veteran, suffers from a brain injury incurred during his time in the service.  As a result, Tyler’s family struggles for basic necessities like food, shelter and electricity that many of us take for granted.   With two younger siblings, Tyler often puts his own needs aside in order to care for his family.

Seeing the talent and intellect hidden behind Tyler’s covered smile, his grandparents did their best to nurture his gifts.   While they struggled to make ends meet themselves, they encouraged his participation in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), seeing it as an opportunity to build Tyler’s confidence.  As a 1 st Lieutenant, he hopes to attend the National Emergency Services Academy and achieve the ranking of 2 nd Lieutenant to become eligible for scholarships.  With dreams of becoming an Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle pilot in the Air Force, Tyler possessed the drive, intelligence and skill necessary for such a challenge.  Lacking confidence and too embarrassed to even talk with his fellow cadets, Tyler’s future dreams withered.  How could he hope to lead others when he was too ashamed to speak to them?

An estimated 17 million low-income children in America go without dental care each year. This represents one out of every five children between the ages of 1 and 18 in the United States. Tyler is one of these promising youth suffering from a silent epidemic negatively impacting his quality of life and his future.

Seeing how poor oral health was damaging her grandson’s self-esteem, Tyler’s grandmother reached out to Tomorrow’s SMILES ®, a teen program of National Children’s Oral Health Foundation: America’s Toothfairy ®(NCOHF) that provides promising, at-risk teens with comprehensive oral health services to help prepare them for healthy, successful futures.  Sponsored by the Patterson Foundation and Philips Sonicare, Tomorrow’s SMILES helps restore smiles and self esteem while encouraging teens to take responsibility for their oral health. Through this program, caring volunteer dentists provide pro-bono restorative services for a prescreened underserved teen and have access to generously donated products from Invisalign ® and Nobel Biocare™ (including Procera ®).

Participating teens then Pay It Forward by serving as mentors and teachers to children, encouraging good oral health habits that will help them maintain beautiful, happy smiles throughout their lives and help to break the cycle of pediatric dental disease in their community.

Thanks to Leonard Hess, DDS, a Dawson Academy faculty member, and J. Turner Hull, DDS, MS, Tyler is receiving life-changing oral health services.  As a pilot, Dr. Hess immediately developed a unique bond with Tyler.  He said,  “Tyler is a great young man and we share a common interest in aviation.  I could see how important it was for him to feel good about his smile.  To make a positive impact on this teen’s life is extremely gratifying.”  Volunteering their time and expertise, these dentists are not only giving Tyler the gift of a smile; they are giving him hope.

When asked about the impact changing his smile has had on his life, Tyler remarked, “Now, I am more positive, outgoing and see myself as a leader.”  He then expressed great appreciation for the efforts of Drs. Leonard Hess and J. Turner Hull, “I am very grateful for all they have done for me.”  With renewed confidence, this well-spoken, hard-working teen is now facing his future with a big smile.

Tomorrow’s SMILES has had a big impact on his life.  He has gained confidence, self-esteem and become a leader among his peers,” remarked his grandfather, Phillip, about the incredible change in Tyler since beginning his treatment.

You can help transform a teen’s needless pain and suffering into a beautiful smile and the promise of a brighter future by volunteering for Tomorrow’s SMILES.  To learn more about Tomorrow’s SMILES, visit Email Brenda Woodington at to volunteer to save a smile and change a teen’s life today!
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No More Bullying - Tomorrow's Smiles

Ashamed of her unsightly smile, Micah didn’t feel pretty.  That, however, wasn’t even the worst of it.  “No one wants to be around the girl with ragged teeth,” she remarked about how difficult it was to make friends.  Bullied and harassed by her fellow classmates throughout high school, she would often cry herself to sleep worrying about the ridicule the next day would bring.   The teasing never stopped as her classmates resorted to cyber bullying, posting their cruel remarks online for all to see.

Tomorrow’s SMILES ®, a special program from the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation (NCOHF), was designed to help teens like Micah that desperately need dental care.  Through this innovative program sponsored by the Patterson Foundation, volunteer dentists provide pro bono services to promising at-risk teens in their community, restoring their self-esteem and encouraging them to take responsibility for their oral health. Tomorrow’s SMILES volunteer dentists also have access to generously donated products from Invisalign ® and Nobel Biocare (including Procera ®) to help restore the smiles of pre-screened, promising teens.

In return for receiving this life-changing care, participating teens Pay It Forward by sharing their newfound oral health knowledge through interactive oral health lessons with younger children in their community. Tooth decay is the #1 chronic childhood disease and it has reached epidemic proportions. Millions suffer in pain so severe, it inhibits their ability to eat, sleep and learn. Better access to oral health education can drastically reduce tooth decay as well as the financial and societal costs that result, which is why your support of this program is so important.

As you know, poor oral health can be devastating for an adolescent struggling to fit in and prepare for a successful future. Studies show that children with dental pain may be irritable, withdrawn, or unable to concentrate. This pain can affect test performance as well as school attendance. Suffering from the pain and embarrassment of her ugly smile, Micah lacked confidence and hope for a happy, successful future.

Her teacher and mentor at her local Alabama Boys & Girls Club had known Micah for several years and knew that she needed help. Micah was a bright student and worked well with all the children at the club, so her teacher reached out to the Tomorrow’s SMILES program for help.

As a Tomorrow’s SMILES teen, Micah no longer cries herself to sleep worrying about getting teased the following day.   Thanks to the generosity of a Dawson Academy dentist, Dr. Keith Calvert, she is currently receiving life-changing dental care, and soon will have a restored smile and renewed confidence.  With hope and excitement about her future, Micah has this to say about her career goals and wanting to become a teacher, “I can’t wait to have my teeth fixed so that people can hear what I say instead of being distracted by my teeth”.

You can help transform a teen’s needless pain and suffering into a happy, beautiful smile and the promise of a brighter future by volunteering for Tomorrow’s SMILES. Visit or email Brenda Woodington at to learn more about this life-changing program!
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Anyone interested in going to India?

By Dr. Stephen Krist
I find it absolutely fascinating to look and reflect at my life in reverse. If I hadn’t gone to Emory Dental School in 1975, I wouldn’t have met Glenn DuPont. If I had not met Glenn, I probably wouldn’t have had my 30 year relationship with Pete Dawson. If it wasn’t for Pete, Glenn, and my Uncle Ed (a Pankey – Dawson dentist whose practice I bought), I surely would not have made the American Equilibration Society meeting in Chicago every winter an annual affair. If I hadn’t gone to that meeting annually, I surely would have never met Dr. Brian McAllister, a Delaware dentist who had taken all of Pete’s courses.

Here is where I think it really gets interesting.

If I had never met Brian, I absolutely, positively would never have found myself in India every January, having the privilege of treating the dental needs of people I never knew existed in a country that I never cared to visit. To this day, I can’t explain what made my name pop into his head, but I can’t help but believe all that has happened is part of a plan that far surpasses my understanding. I am enjoying the journey and I hope you are.

For more information on my annual mission trip to India, please send me an email.

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