COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - As your children grow up, it seems like more and more costs add up, whether it's school supplies, sports gear or braces, but one local orthodontist offers free dental care for the less fortunate.
"The basic premise is that we're trying to give orthodontic treatment to kids who can't afford it," Dr. Jeff Serff told News Leader Nine.
The national program "Smile for a Lifetime" started in 2008 and just a few months ago the staff at Dr. Jeff Serff's office in Columbus signed up to participate.
"We've treated about ten patients so far and we're looking for folks who have a financial need where orthodontics are out of reach and they have a need for it so we can continue this," explained Dr. Serff.
Dr. Serff is one of only three doctors in Georgia who is offering this type of service to those who qualify at absolutely no charge to the patient. He said, "Orthodontics has a huge impact on young people. This is the time they are building self-esteem and this is an important aspect. If you can give someone that really needs orthodontic therapy that gift, then we look at it as a way that one day they'll give it back to the community: to better themselves and the community."
Two months ago, Marquise Myrie signed up for the "Smile for a Lifetime" program and came to Dr. Serff for help.
Marquise said, "I've been made fun of about my teeth so we went to the guidance counselor and Miss Dottie came and told us about the free braces."
His mother, Madge Myrie added, "Not having the funds to come up with that money and he's getting ready to go to high school, which will be harder. Kids will bother him more and more. It just came through, just like that."
Now Marquise, and other kids all over the valley can have a new smile that will truly last them a lifetime. He said, "I'm just glad they're helping me because my teeth will be straight and everything will be great."
The "Smile for a Lifetime" program was started by an orthodontist in Arkansas and has now reached 26 states.
A lot of people hear the word free and think it's too good to be true, but this isn't. For more information you can visit www.s4l.org there you can find out how to apply for the program and receive free braces.