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Women orthodontists give away free braces

Eight female orthodontists partnered with the non-profit Smiles Change Lives to give free or low-cost braces to kids in need

KIRKWOOD, Mo. — Everyone looks forward to their next trip unless it's a trip to the orthodontist.

Patrick Griffin, 12, a patient at Junction Orthodontics in Kirkwood gets to the root of the problem. Wearing braces can be painful.

"Cause it hurts to chew," he said.

After two years, Patrick is just a few months away from having them removed, which is good for him and his parents' bank account.

"Even when you go to a dental school clinic they're about $4200 up to $8,000 for a set of braces," explained Dr. Jaclyn Scroggins.

And insurance companies don't typically cover the cost. That's why Dr. Scroggins and the 7 other female Orthodontists decided to do something to help the families that can't afford braces.

A few days after Patrick's appointment, the day starts before the office opens. A line started forming an hour-and-a-half before the office opened because today, families from all over the Bi-State area are here for free screenings.

"As a group, we've pledged about $400,000 worth of free treatment," Dr. Scroggins told us.

"We just thought 'What a great way to make a big impact in the community,'" Dr. Mary Ellen Helmkamp added, "and being able to provide treatment for a lot of kids and get screenings to help get kids in the program."

The women orthodontists are donating their services through Smiles Change Lives, a nonprofit that helps children whose families cannot afford the full cost of braces.

"I thought this was awesome. What a great way to give back to the community," Monique Jackson said.

Jackson is here with her entire family. 

She's fostered eight kids, adopted seven of them and it can be expensive. Braces just aren't in the budget.

"Honestly, I would have just been out of luck," she told us.

 But now her heart is smiling.

Smiles Change Lives orthodontists have treated more than 12,000 children across the country since 1997.

"Pretty much everyone comes through today has a need that I've seen," said Dr. Helmkamp.

Madelyn English is no fan of heavy metal.

The 11-year-old says her friends who have braces just say "Ouch!"

But Madelyn's mom, Suzanne Sims is grateful.

"It speaks volumes that they're women, they're mothers, sisters and they just want to help their community and those who can't afford otherwise and I appreciate it. It's awesome," she said.

In all, more than 50 local kids will get new braces at greatly reduced prices.

"I think it's amazing," Jackson said. "Just to give back and help others and really truly do need the help and couldn't even get the opportunity to do something like this."

Eight female Orthodontists giving back and giving families a reason to smile.

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