The "Smiles for Vets" campaign was personal for the office's dentists.
Twenty-three local veterans have received a total of 54 free tooth implants thanks to dentists at Florida Family Dentistry in Palm Coast.
Through a partnership between the dental office at 4 Old Kings Road N., its implant supplier, MegaGen, and its lab, Sakr Dental Arts, about $120,000 worth of implants were completed.
To Flagler Beach resident Rupert Ross, the gift meant no more pain.
“I’m a disabled veteran with a non-service-connected disability, so I only make about a little less than $1,100 a month,” said Ross, who served in the U.S. Army. “That’s not a lot of money. Implants are costly. So, this really made me smile.”
Ross said he got four implants from Florida Family Dentistry, of which he’s very appreciative.
“The first night I went home, I ate a pork chop,” he said. “The next afternoon, I cut an apple in half and ate it. And two nights ago, I ate corn on the cob.”
The “Smiles for Vets” campaign hit home for many of the dentists at Florida Family Dentistry. Greg Johnston, D.D.S., is a veteran himself.
“I think veterans in general are very good patriots,” Gregory Johnston said. “And they appreciate anything that comes from this country. They don’t expect to be given anything. They fought for us, and I’m very appreciative of them. It’s really more of a privilege, for me, than for them.”
His nephew Jordan Johnston, D.M.D., said he watched this initiative make a difference in his patients’ lives.
“I had patients who have been coming to me for years, and they have always kind of put off real, ideal care because they just didn’t have the resources,” Jordan Johnston said. “So, they’d come in, get their teeth cleaned, get a tooth worked on if they could afford it or get it pulled if they couldn’t afford it. I had guys putting off real treatment that I was able to say, ‘Hey, let’s fix you. Let’s get you going and get you fixed up.’”
The effort started in July 2018 and concluded at the end of 2018. But the dentistry is eager to do more, as “this kind of whet all our appetites to do more for the community,” said Travis Ray, D.M.D.
Palm Coast resident Steve MacCloskey, a U.S. Navy veteran, said he was overwhelmed by the great service.
“When you hear something like this, you can’t help but be a little leery,” MacCloskey said. “It sounds too good to be true, and there’s a chance it is. But this was totally the opposite of what I thought. The service from the desk back to the chair was phenomenal.