PITTSBURGH, Nov. 14 There are a lot more women smilingtoday! Aquafresh White Trays has contributed $100,000 to Smiles for Success, anationwide organization that provides free dental care for women transitioningfrom welfare to work. This is the largest single donation the non-profitorganization has ever received.
(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20071114/NYW011 )
In May, Aquafresh White Trays insured America Ferrera's smile for $10million through Lloyds of London to raise awareness for this worthwhile causeand asked people across the country to support the donation by purchasing thenew tooth whitening tray treatment or entering the Aquafresh White Trays'"Beauty that Fits Sweepstakes" for the chance to meet America behind thescenes of "Ugly Betty." For each person that either purchased products orentered the sweepstakes, $1 was contributed to Smiles for Success, up to$100,000. The response was overwhelming and the maximum $100,000 was achieved.
"Smiles for Success works to renew the spirit and self-confidence of thesewomen," said Ms. Ferrera. "I was very pleased to join Aquafresh White Trays inthe campaign to raise awareness and money for this cause."
Women having job interviews for the first time with decayed, missing ordamaged teeth are often self-conscious and embarrassed. In addition to copingwith oral pain, these women may try to hide their smiles making it moredifficult for them to put their best foot forward during the job search.
One woman whose life was dramatically changed as a result of the AquafreshWhite Trays donation is Kari Thumlert, who has struggled with dental problemssince childhood. Growing up in an economically disadvantaged family, Kari wasunable to receive proper dental care. Kari's father died soon after she wasborn and her mom worked two jobs just to make ends meet. Her dental troublesbegan at age seven when she chipped her right front tooth after a fall on aschool playground. She unfortunately had to go to a dentist who her mothercould afford to get the tooth repaired, and a few years later it turnedyellow. She grew up with the nickname corn tooth and no longer smiled. Byage 14, she often skipped school because she dreaded being teased. Then, shehad to have braces and the orthodontist decided the yellowed front tooth hadto be pulled. He attached a tooth to a brace so she wouldn't be toothless andKari acquired new nicknames -- jaws and metal mouth. At age 18, the bracescame off and she got a retainer with a tooth on it. Because of her inadequateeducation, Kari ended up with minimum wage jobs that didn't offer dentalinsurance. In seeking a more permanent solution, she found a dental officewith an in-house payment plan and had a bridge made. However, it was toolarge and she couldn't afford the additional money the dentist wanted to fixit. Kari lived with the ill-fitting bridge for 18 years; and because it wastoo big, it shifted to the left and so did her teeth causing an overbite and abig gap in the front of her teeth.
Kari's dental problems made her self-conscious and she constantly coveredher mouth when she smiled. Her lifelong dream of becoming a broadcastjournalist remained in her heart until one day six years ago, when Karirealized that living paycheck to paycheck was not going to allow her to savefor a retirement or buy a home. By relying heavily on financial aid, Kari wasable to enroll in college, first taking many remedial classes needed to bringher pre-college education up to standard. She is currently in her senior yearand will receive a BA in journalism.
Through her own hard work, Kari was very close to fulfilling her careeraspirations. One obstacle still stood in her way -- her smile. However,after extensive dental work and plastic surgery paid for by Smiles for Successand with time donated by her team of Smiles for Success de