Changing Lives—And Now, Direction: Smiles For Success Following New Path

When Carmen began her free treatment through Smiles for Success in 2016, she and her dentist became fast friends. Now with a perfect smile, Carmen’s job search brought her right back to that same person, Dr. Donna, where she worked at the New York office’s front desk for years. The two stayed by each other’s sides until the very end when Dr. Donna passed away in 2018. With no close family, Carmen insisted on compforting her in her time of need. The bonds between patient and doctor created by the Smiles For Success program go far beyond the dental chair.

Shift from dental schools to private practice

Established in 1995 through the American Association of Women Dentists (AAWD), Smiles For Success has been lifting up women and giving them the confidence they need to face a job interview ever since. Dentists volunteer their time “to assist women in transition from welfare to work who cannot afford the cost of dental care.” 

Until recently, the program’s doctors were dental school students eager to learn and always willing to perform treatment. But Smiles For Success was paying a price. “We were losing money. It was totally a financial thing. Our funds had been just slowly going down, down, down,” said Dr. Mary Martin, president of Smiles For Success. “We loved being through the dental schools. And we had worked a lot through grants, but the grants dried up. Dental schools aren’t free.” As a result, Smiles For Success shifted focus back to private practice dentists.

“The switch gives us the opportunity to engage our active AAWD dentists more,” noted Dr. Brittany Bergeron, AAWD president and ex-officio board member. “Our members really like the philanthropic outreach part of AAWD that is Smiles For Success. It caused us to pull back and regroup and realize that we needed to shift that focus to better serve our members.” Moving back to private practices gives Smiles For Success the chance to call on female dentists involved in the AAWD while saving costs. Dentists will volunteer their time, practice, and materials with no cost to Smiles For Success.

Pilot program

The new pilot program kicked off with three practices in Texas, Maryland, and Georgia, with plans to expand. “Centering the program in a community around the practitioner with other fellow AAWD members who can help support, raise funds, awareness, and interact with centers for women, has made it much easier to find dentists for the program,” said Dr. Mary Beth Reidy, vice president and director of the organization’s student chapters. Smiles For Success is currently searching for a member of the AAWD to volunteer their practice and time in the Atlanta, Georgia area. 

Hope amid pandemic

“It’s going to be hard to restart a program like this at a time like this. And yet I feel we need something to look forward to, to feel good about,” said Dr. Martin. “We still need that ability to say, ‘wow, this is why I went to dental school; this is why I do this.’ And I think Smiles For Success is a way for dentists to get that feeling back.”

If you’d like to get involved with Smiles For Success and the American Association of Women Dentists, visit their websiteand complete a volunteer appliation or email 

Benco Dental’s Lucy Hobbs Project hosts three February events in Midwest

Inspiring speakers, the latest in dental technologies, innovative agendas – The Lucy Hobbs Project invites members of the dental community to experience these at three February events where they can make a difference in their careers, communities and the lives of their patients.

In the Midwest next month, free events will be hosted on the regional and collegiate level; registration is currently open.

“The Lucy Hobbs Project is dedicated to offering diverse events across the country,” said Rachel Pugh, Branding and Communications Manager for Benco Dental. “Whether it be on campus, to connect with students, in collaboration with dentists, to discuss relevant issues or within networking opportunities, to bring colleagues together, our mission is to keep the conversation going and drive dentistry forward.”

Powered by Benco Dental, The Lucy Hobbs Project encourages dental professionals to become part of the movement that is changing the face of dentistry through networking, innovation and giving back.

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An evening of educational discussion will focus on The Opioid Crisis: What We Don’t Fix Cannot Heal, along with efforts of addiction prevention being made statewide. Phing Saurer, DDS, PhD will serve as emcee for a Lucy Hobbs Project Regional Event at Brick House Blue, 6605 Longshore Street, Suite 240, Dublin, Ohio 43017. Lucy Hobbs Humanitarian Award recipient Sharon Parsons, DDS, will discuss the importance of prevention and opioid harm. Speaker and activist Dr. Parsons founded the nonprofit “A Voice for Sean” for opioid addiction education and advocacy after the loss of her adult son, Sean, to an opioid overdose. A raffle of prizes will benefit “A Voice For Sean.” Dinner and refreshments will be provided and the top 15 nominees in the Columbus area will receive dental support awards. Attendees will earn 1.5 Continuing Education credits while learning and giving back. Register today: Click here.

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  • FEBRUARY 7 in DETROIT, MICHIGAN: A keynote discussion, Giving It Your Heart, aims to inspire dental and hygiene students and dental alumnae from Detroit Mercy to ignite their passions for the profession. This Lucy Hobbs Project YOU Event, hosted in collaboration with University of Detroit Mercy will take place from 5:45 to 7:45 p.m., at the Detroit Mercy Dental Corktown Campus Special Functions Room, 2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Detroit, Michigan 48208. Attendees will gain insight from Professor Pamela Zarkowski, JD, MPH, BSDH, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University. Desserts and networking are also on the menu. Register today: Click here.

  • FEBRUARY 21 in CHICAGO, ILLINOIS:  An evening of cocktails and networking at the Riff Music Lounge (3rd Floor) – a Meet-up – will celebrate the formal announcement of the 2019 Lucy Hobbs Project Annual Celebration. Attendees can expect free transportation from the Chicago Midwinter meeting to the venue, 2239 South Michigan Ave., Chicago, Illinois, 60616, along with cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres from 5 to 8 p.m. For more information, reach out to Ali Riviello at 570-602-7068 or Register today: Click to register.

Want to get involved?

To host a regional event, take part in a Lucy Hobbs Project YOU event at a dental school, or attend the 7th Annual Celebration of Women in Dentistry, contact Event Coordinator Ali Riviello at 570-602-7068 or

About The Lucy Hobbs Project

The national, long-term program, powered by Benco Dental and 10,000 members strong, helps women in dentistry use their voices as a force for change. Named for Dr. Lucy Hobbs Taylor, the woman who, in 1866, became the first American female to earn a degree in dentistry, this Project aims to bring women together from all facets of the dental profession – dentists, dental assistants, hygienists, receptionists, sales representatives and others. Free to join, it supports the following pillars: innovation, networking, and giving back. To learn more, or to sign up for The Lucy Hobbs Project®, visit:

About Benco Dental

Benco Dental, headquartered in Northeastern Pennsylvania, is the largest privately-owned dental distributor in the United States, offering a full array of supplies, equipment and services to dentists across the nation.  Founded in 1930 by Benjamin Cohen, the company has remained family-owned and focused on its unique mission to “deliver success, smile after smile.” Within the past 88 years, the company has grown from a single downtown location to a national network that includes five distribution centers, and three design showrooms.  Benco, which has been named one of Fortune Best Workplaces in Health Care and Biopharma for the past three years, one of the NAFE Top Companies for Executive Women for the second consecutive year, and Pennsylvania’s Best Places to Work® for 12 of the past 14 years, is proud to feature a highly skilled team of more than 400 professionally trained sales representatives and over 300 factory-trained service technicians. For more information, visit or call 1.800.GO.BENCO.