In honor of 9/11 two dentists Dr. Dean Lodding, and Dr. Debra Gray King created Smiles for America “a program in which 50 cosmetic dentists from 50 states will give a smile to an American …
In honor of 9/11 two dentists Dr. Dean Lodding, and Dr. Debra Gray King created Smiles for America “a program in which 50 cosmetic dentists from 50 states will give a smile to an American hero,” according to its website.
They said that a “hero could be defined as an individual who is of distinguished courage or ability or admired for their brave deeds and noble qualities. As we prepare to remember the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we are reminded of the courageous spirit of the many heroes who helped our country emerge from that sad day in American history.”
Dr. Elisa Liberto whose office has been located on Jefferson Boulevard in Warwick for 30 years was picked to represent Rhode Island.
“I was kind of blown away,” Liberto said about her reaction when she got the call in August from Gray King who asked her if she wanted to participate in the program.
“I was happy about it and I was happy to be chosen to do it,” Liberto said.
After receiving the news her staff and her quickly got to work coming up with a list of clients who would be worthy recipients of the free dental work.
They quickly realized that they had a long list of people to choose from.
“There’s a lot of heroes in the practice,” Liberto said.
Because it was in honor of those who lost their lives on 9/11 they wanted to find someone who helped on 9/11 or with the aftermath.
Then they came across Brian Dixon who has served as a firefighter with the Pawtucket Fire Department since 2004.
Before then he was a volunteer with the Mishnock Fire Department in West Greenwich.
Following the attacks at the World Trade Center he was one of the firefighters who volunteered to drive to New York City to help with the aftermath.
After learning about his story, Dixon was chosen to be the Rhode Island recipient for the program.
“It was a perfect fit,” said Liberto.
When he was first approached about Smiles for America, he said he was “a little unsure.”
“This program honors fallen first responders and I wondered if I was the best choice,” Dixon said. “Surely many more people have been through worse than me? Is it weird to be getting a new smile in honor of those who have given so much? Once I learned more about it though, how the organizers wanted to give back, how passionate they are about restoring smiles, I understood that to be chosen to represent Rhode Island is an amazing opportunity. I am very grateful for the chance to revitalize my smile and be a part of the national Smiles for America program.”
So far Dixon has had three appointments with Liberto. She has replaced his old fillings and given him a whitening treatment. He is also going to get a cracked tooth crowned all free of charge.
“If she suggests any other work I am open to it. She is such a talented professional and I trust her implicitly with my smile,” he said.