'Give Back A Smile' Program Provides Dental Care For Abuse Survivors

09/09/2011 08:44 am ET | Updated Nov 09, 2011

Domestic abuse victims spend $4.1 billion on mental health care each year, according to American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. But, repairing the physical scars is something these victims often can't afford.

That's where the Give Back A Smile Program steps in.

The Give Back A Smile Program seeks to ease this financial burden by providing free dental care to abuse survivors who have broken and damaged teeth. Volunteer dentists and laboratory technicians offer their services, free of charge, so that survivors don't have to be reminded of the violence they endured every time they look in the mirror, the organization reports.

"I had a broken spirit," Susan Kauffman, 62, told CNN of how her damaged teeth affected her self esteem. Kauffman had been hit so many times that her bite had collapsed, several teeth couldn’t be saved and many required root canals, crowns or bridges. "I became very isolated ... and became a recluse."

Dr. Sam Sadati, who volunteers with Give Back A Smile, performed $40,000 worth of dental work on Kauffman over the course of six months.

"These individuals really need somebody to take care of their oral health and give them a boost of energy and self-confidence. I wanted to help," Sadati told the news outlet.

In honor of October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the organization has launched a call for new applicants for volunteers this month.

"Sadly, domestic violence is still prevalent and, in many places, on the rise in this time of economic turbulence," said Dr. Ken Banks, AACDCF Board of Trustees Chair, in a press release. "GBAS has restored the smiles of more than 1,000 domestic violence survivors to date, and we're looking to help even more."

To find out how to apply or for more information on Give Back a Smile, go to the campaign's website.

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