Daniel is a typical 7-year-old who loves soccer and his brother, Elias, 3. One day, his mother, Nichole, found him picking at one of his back teeth. When she looked in Daniel’s mouth, she was shocked. “There was a big hole right in the middle of his tooth,” she said.

Nichole knew that she had to get him to a dentist soon, but she knew that it would not be easy, especially because she and her children were uninsured. When she found a dentist who was accepting new patients, she was told that Daniel’s treatment would cost $2,200, which she could not afford.

Nichole reached out to the nurse at Daniel’s Milwaukee school. The nurse told her that the Columbia St. Mary’s Smart Smiles program would be coming to the school next week.

The Smart Smiles dentist examined Daniel and found cavities in each of his baby molars. The dental hygienist cleaned his teeth, gave the boy lessons on dental health, and put sealants on his adult molars. And Daniel was referred to Seton, where the dentist filled all eight cavities. Thanks to the clinic’s Healthy Teeth for Children initiative, funded in part by United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County, the boy got his smile back.

On his last visit, Daniel told the Seton staff that he was teaching Elias how to brush and floss. “I feel happy that I got my teeth fixed, and I think that I am being a good big brother,” he said. Because of the care that he received from Smart Smiles and Seton, Nichole said, Daniel no longer cuts short his brushing time. And Elias no longer has to be prompted to brush his own teeth -- he does it all on his own.

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