Jewish Journal

A Reason to Smile

by Gaby Wenig

Posted on Mar. 13, 2003 at 7:00 pm

Attention Jewish Angelenos: now you can become more beautiful and help Israeli victims of terror at the same time. Two programs, Smiles in Spite of Terror and StandWithUs tooth whitening campaign, donate half the fee from your teeth bleaching sessions goes to help fix the teeth of terror victims.

Smiles in Spite of Terror was started by Dr. Alan Howard, a Los Angeles dentist who felt frustrated at not being able to help Israel more throughout the terror attacks. He made some inquiries and found out that the terror victims were getting their dental treatment through Kupat Cholim, a government-sponsored managed care that only provided low-end dentistry. Howard thought he could do better than that, and he started organizing volunteer dentists from the United States to go to Israel and offer high-end dentistry to the terror victims free of charge at Hadassah hospital.

"The terrorists fill the bombs with nails and bolts, so when they explode people have facial injuries and they lose teeth," Howard said. "The easier way to fix this is with removable dentures, but we put implants in, which is more expensive, but it is also permanent, like having your own teeth back."

Since the organization started in September 2002, five dentists (including Howard) have volunteered their services in Israel, and have treated more than 60 patients, out of a pool of 600 victims who have applied for treatment.

"There are over 750 people who have been killed in terror attacks in Israel, but thousands of other victims have survived," Howard said. "For those who survived, we just want to give them back their smiles."

Whitening costs $400 ($200 of which is a tax-deductible donation to Smiles in Spite of Terror and StandWithUs) and dentists are available in Los Angeles, Lakewood and the San Fernando Valley.

They are not the only Angelenos using their expertise to help Israelis. In December, Max Castiel of IX Optical donated 800 eyeglass frames to Israel, which his wife, Chantal, personally distributed in Haifa, as part of an effort by ABSI -- a French organization that helps indigent Israelis get their sight back.

To make an appointment for bleaching, contact the StandWithUs office at (310) 836-6140.

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