Community

Kent orthodontist leads effort to bring smiles to others

A Kent orthodontist will fix smiles for free and is asking recipients to pay it forward.

Bob Haeger, of Kent's Haeger Orthodontics, will offer free treatments to eight deserving patients a year beginning this spring. The work costs a minimum $5,000, but can go as high as $8,000 for braces and all that they require.

"He's always believed in giving back to the community," said Marla Sherrard, Haeger's financial coordinator and program contact. "He's always donated and sponsored several ball teams. ... We really want to change these lives dramatically."

The charity work is part of the Smiles for a Lifetime Foundation's national effort. It began in 2008, with the idea to create self-confidence, inspire hope and change in the lives of children in communities by helping deserving, underserved 11- to 18-year-olds.

Families must apply to receive the orthodontics treatment. The first round of applications are due March 31. Candidates must show tax information revealing their need, give an explanation of why they think they qualify and provide references. The orthodontist's office also is asking candidates to perform 40 hours of community service with an organization or cause of their choice.

"We feel like it's important for everybody to give back," Sherrard said.

Those selected won't necessarily be destitute people, she said. Many people with jobs still can't afford to pay for braces for their children because of other costs.

The office is looking for people who could dramatically benefit from the work, but for whom such services are out of their budget.

Work on braces can typically go on for one to two years. The charity treatment includes all of the required X-rays and retainers, but does not include followup work at a dentist's office. That work may involve cleanings and fillings.

Haeger's office will try and work with dentists in the area to see if those services can be given at a reduced rate. The office has been in contact with schools and dentists in the area to promote the service.

"We are really excited to get started," Sherrard said.

Four candidates will receive the service in May and four more in October.

Applications are available at Haeger Orthodontics, 24909 104th Ave. SE, Suite 203, Kent. They also can be requested through email by calling the office at 253-850-7043.

For information about the national foundation visit www.s4l.org.

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