TAMPA, Fla. — The act of smiling: It's something many of us take for granted because it's just something that physically happens when we are happy.
But what if your teeth were so damaged that you were embarrassed to show them? It's good to know there are dentists who volunteer their time to help those who need it most.
"I was ashamed, embarrassed. I looked down mostly. I wouldn't smile, I wouldn't laugh. I was afraid of what people would think." Mia is a survivor, after years of drug addiction, abuse and human trafficking, she finally is getting the help she needs and starting a new life.
That included a new smile.
"Getting the dental work I needed was just the first step into kind of leaving that life behind and becoming this new improved version of me," she said.
Dr. Ronak Parikh with Baybreeze Dental in Wesley Chapel volunteers with Mission Smiles in Tampa and worked with Mia. "Seeing Mia's transformation going from where she was to where she is now is really moving so, I love that we're able to do that."
Kathy McGartland is the Program Director for Mission Smiles. "We work with abuse shelters, human trafficking survivors, homeless and people that have just lost their job and need a hand up."
And that's why many Saturdays, Dr. Parikh shows up helping change lives. "Seeing how impactful getting a smile is really kind of moved me and then finding a way to give back to the community was the biggest part."
And Mia is already enjoying the benefits. "Today when I look in the mirror, I am proud of what I see, not only because of my smile but because of what I've been able to accomplish with the newfound confidence and self-esteem that my smile gave me."