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'It's life-changing'; Oral surgery office looking for fifth recipient of a free smile makeover

The Smile Again program is taking applications through Thursday, September 30th to win a $50,000 smile makeover.

Grand Rapids area residents have two more days to apply for a free smile makeover through the Smile Again program, run by the Advanced Oral Surgery and Dental Implant Studio. This is the program's fourth year in action.

It's a procedure that costs tens of thousands of dollars, and it's something that changed Jennifer VanderShuur's life for the better almost two years ago. She says she's glad she didn't give up on her smile, for herself and her family. 

"I'm loving that I can be myself again," she says. "Honestly, I'm more social, eager to smile and talk to people now." 

The Allegan County mother won her new smile through the program in 2019, a full-arch implant restoration through the office in Grand Rapids.

"I actually saw the ad on Facebook, and I'm like 'why not?'" she says. "I don't win anything ever and I thought it was a long shot."

Her issues started more than a decade ago during her first pregnancy, where her teeth became weaker and started breaking. It's something that hurt both her health and her confidence.

"I literally broke a tooth eating a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup," VanderShuur says. "So it got bad."

She applied twice before being selected, and she says she wanted to do it to be better for her kids.

"When I went in for my son's [parent-teacher] conferences, I'd sit there and hide my mouth or look down," she says. "I avoided social situations as much as possible and I think it kind of rubbed off on my kids."

Dr. Mark Jesin is one of the oral surgeons who worked with VanderShuur. They still keep in touch.

"It's amazing to hear the change in voice and confidence since the procedure has happened," he says. 

Dr. Jesin says they get hundreds of applications every year for people in need of the $50,000 procedure.

"Many patients have lost jobs or dental insurance and have been neglecting some of their care because of that," he says. "We've noticed since the pandemic an incredible amount of need because of the stress of it all, grinding teeth and broken and chipped teeth." 

Dr. Jesin hopes they can make an impact for many years to come. The fifth winner will be chosen this Thanksgiving and the surgery will happen early next year. 

"It's very exciting to be able to select somebody," he says. "We love hearing that story and see who gets that beautiful smile."

VanderShuur says the pain was worth it, and she encourages anyone who's struggling with their dental health get the help they need.

"It's life-changing," she says. 

Interested individuals can apply for the Smile Again program here

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