It is the personal mission of Smiley Star Dental to put a smile on the face of everyone they can.
Smiley Dental, located near Dollar Tree across the street from Walmart on Lamar Avenue, is a corporate business, but employees like Paula Torres, April Isham and Dr. Juan Diaz are always ready with a warm welcome the minute someone walks through the door.
Dr. Diaz has been with the company for more than a year, and he makes it his goal to not only help patients, but to educate them and their families about proper dental hygiene.
“I’ve definitely seen a couple of kids that are, you know, less than 10 years old, and when they come in, you know, they have holes on every tooth. So we have to do baby root canals and stainless steel crowns. Then when I see them back for their exams, it’s comforting to see that they are cleaning their teeth, that their parents are involved in their kids’ hygiene, and that we don’t see cavities in the next six months,” Diaz said.
Smiley Star Dental is not just for kids though, as they do treat several adult patients.
“So, a similar thing in adults where they come in with a lot of teeth that are broken down, so we have to extract a lot of them. Then we give them partials or dentures. So I’ve had a couple patients where they see their teeth and start crying, because you know, they haven’t seen straight teeth like that before,” the dentist said.
Unlike some dental offices, Smiley Star Dental takes Medicaid and several insurance plans.
“The purpose of Smiley Dental, it’s mostly a Medicaid office, so the purpose is to serve the lower income people of the community,” Diaz said.
However, if someone is not able to pay for their procedure, they don’t have to give up or move to a different dentist office. Isham is Smiley Star Dental’s office manager, and she said she tries to do everything she can to help those who are struggling to receive adequate dental care.
She often attends community events to hand out free toothbrushes to kids. This increases awareness of Smiley Star Dental and shows the business appreciates different community organizations. Whether it’s the annual fair or Kids Safe Saturday, Isham spends several hours creating gift baskets and goody bags herself.
In addition to working with different organizations, Isham has previously helped pay medical bills out of her own pocket for those who could not afford their treatment.
“There is one patient who had been hurting for such a long time about this back tooth, and me and another lady here in the office got together, and we decided we weren’t going to let her hurt anymore. We called her in to get her tooth pulled, and the doctor took care of one of the teeth. Then there was a secondary tooth that she needed to have pulled as well. Me and the other lady took care of the other tooth. So, we signed all the forms, we collected the cash, and we paid for it here in the office,” she said.
Isham added she wished she had enough money to do the same for all of the patients at Smiley Dental.
“When you get to know these people, you love them,” she said. “And you wish you had a million dollars so you could just give it to them. Tooth pain is the worst in the world. It hurts, and you can’t get rid of it because it’s just so painful. And we also think, you know, what if this infection gets down to the bone? That infected bone could then lead to the heart. What if we had the money and we could help out? Now it’s not our obligation and it is not our job, but if there’s ever a point in time where we feel like we could help somebody, we have and we will.”