PHOENIX - A nonprofit Valley dental clinic is helping veterans get their smiles and their confidence back.
The Brighter Way Dental Center is part of the Central Arizona Shelter Services complex at 12th Avenue and Madison Street in Central Phoenix. Both paid dentists and volunteers at the facility treat up to 10,000 homeless and low-income patients a year.
Many of the clients get free emergency dental services like treatment of abscesses and tooth extractions. The clinic also provides world-class dental restorations, if such dental work could help clients get a job or otherwise succeed in life.
"I want them to be high-functioning members of the society," Dental Director Kris Volcheck said. "I want them to have their self-esteem restored, and that's what we've done here."
John Landis, a 61-year-old Marine veteran, became homeless after being seriously injured and unable to work. As he was staying in a shelter, he was referred to the dental clinic. He received dental implants in place of his failing and missing teeth. Each implant can cost thousands of dollars at a regular dental office. Landis would never be able to afford them on his own.
"There's not words I can put to thank these guys," Landis said. "I was broke, I was broken, and they fixed me."
Landis says his new smile gave him new confidence and he recently started a new job.