Inaugural “Smiles for America” Gives Heroes New Smiles

ATLANTA, GA (ANS) —  In honor of the 20th anniversary of September 11th, a new program called Smiles for America is giving 50 heroes in 50 states something that should never be taken for granted —  a new smile.
Across the country, the nation’s top cosmetic dentists are donating their talents to transforming first responders and other heroes’ smiles as a national sign of solidarity and commitment to cosmetic dentistry and service. All smiles will be revealed on the 20th anniversary of September 11th.
Smiles For America logo

Dr. Dean Lodding of Smile for Life Dental in Elgin, IL and Dr. Debra Gray King of Atlanta Center for Cosmetic Dentistry in Atlanta, GA are spearheading Smiles for America, both have been overwhelmed by the positive response from cosmetic dentists across the USA. Recipients, in all 50 states, have begun the process to receive their new smiles by September 11th, 2021.

Dr. Lodding’s recipient Eric Echevarria said “What does a new smile mean to me? A proud smile provides the confidence to be more outgoing and personable because you are more confident. The confidence needed to be in front of a new and bigger audience will be bolstered with this new smile. I can confidently jump into my new role as police chief knowing I have a smile for life.”
Dr. Dean Lodding of Smile for Life Dental, is proud and honored to have chosen police officer Eric Echevarria to be the American hero who will receive the gift of a smile. Eric is an individual who has dedicated his entire life to giving and serving others around him. He proudly served our country in the United States Marine Corps and later began his career in law enforcement. His leadership and service within the community, and within the Elgin police force, led to him rising through the ranks of the force advancing from patrolman to sergeant to commander in an unprecedented time frame. His exceptional service led him to recently be chosen as the police chief in Peoria, Illinois. When informed that he had been chosen to be the recipient of a new smile through the Smiles for America program, he felt with great humility, others might be more deserving.
“American heroes inspire me by courageously giving and helping in any way they can. I am honored to be able to give them the gift of a smile,” said Dr. Dean Lodding of Elgin, Illinois.
Dr. King’s recipient said, “This opportunity is giving me something I never thought I would achieve. For 30 years I have been “hiding” my teeth when I smile and now, I am going to be able to smile with confidence, explains Atlanta firefighter Kurt Vermillion. Kurt continues, I will have to learn how to smile again, and I will forever be grateful, thanks to Dr. King and Smiles for America.
Dr. Debra Gray King of Atlanta Center for Cosmetic Dentistry, has dedicated her life’s work to designing smiles that help people build confidence, fuel success, and bring added joy to their lives.
Dr. King was especially touched by the story of Atlanta firefighter Kurt Vermillion. Kurt, a firefighter since 2010. Vermillion has wanted his teeth corrected for as long as he can remember, but the costly procedure was never an option.
Due to this, he always “smiled” with his mouth closed. Unable to afford a permanent solution in his young life, he settled on a quick, inexpensive fix which he self-consciously wore for years. He recalled at his one-year anniversary dinner with his wife how she learned for the first time about his insecurity. While biting into a piece of bread, the dentistry in the front of his mouth broke into pieces, leaving him without a front tooth. Now, with his smile being transformed as part of this exciting program, he looks forward to smiling with confidence.
“I am honored to be a part of providing our American heroes across the country the freedom to smile with confidence. Doing good for Kurt and so many others through Smiles for America is a wonderful way to say thank you for all they do for us, explains Dr. Debra King of Atlanta, Georgia.
Heroes in all 50 states are starting the process now to receive their new smiles by September 11th. This is just a small token from the dental community in honor of the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks where so many, like Kurt, selflessly gave their lives.
Dr. Dean Lodding is the owner and founder of Smile for Life Dental located in Elgin, Illinois. The mission of Smile for Life is “Creating extraordinary smiles through extra ordinary experiences”. He graduated from University of Illinois College of Dentistry in 1980. In 1988 he became Accredited in Cosmetic Dentistry by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He went onto serve as Accreditation chairperson for the AACD from 1993-1996. He served as President of the AACD from 2000-2001. He went onto become the national chairperson of Give Back a Smile, an organization that gives back smiles to survivors of domestic violence.
In 2008 he was a founding member of the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health. Locally , he has served on the Boards of the Elgin Community Crisis Center and was also on the board of One Collective , an international organization that provides food, faith , and freedom to communities around the world. In partnership with Dr. Debra Gray King , he cofounded Smiles for America which gives smiles to American heroes. His greatest joy in life is his young son Liam.
Dr. Debra Gray King is the founder and owner of Atlanta Center for Cosmetic Dentistry in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. King graduated from the University of Tennessee Center for Health and Sciences. In 1999, Dr. King became an Accredited Fellow with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, one of only 80 in the world. The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry Fellowship is considered to be the highest level of competence in cosmetic dentistry. She has been a member of the AACD since 1985 and had held many of the associations most prestigious committee positions.
Dr. King’s innovative approach to dentistry brought attention early on from the public and the press. Particularly her pioneering of Spa Dentistry, her commitment to providing an unparalleled “spa-like” experience. She was happy to be able to spread the word when asked and this led to many local and national radio and television appearances.
It started with the CBS Early Morning Show, many more followed including exclusive interviews with CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, and CNN. An expert dentist on Entertainment Tonight and The Doctors, and one of the transformational dentists on the national television show Extreme Makeover. Humanitarian and philanthropic endeavors are among Dr. King’s highest priorities. Over the last decade Dr. King has contributed over $1 million to greater than 60 charities and is honored to be in partnership with Dr. Dean Lodding in Smiles for America. Dr. King continues to love the practice of dentistry and when not engaged in her practice, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her family and friends.