Bringing Back Her Smile

Sharon Brunson and friendsAsk most of the Dental Assisting students at Forsyth Technical Community College why they chose this career field and they will tell you, they want to help people be confident when they smile and talk. For the graduating class this past spring, their goal was to help bring back one patient’s smile.

In April, Oral Cancer Awareness month, Sharon Brunson attended a free oral cancer screening where the Dental Assisting Program Coordinator Kelly Cook happened to be volunteering that day. Brunson told Cook she had dentures but she couldn’t wear them because they did not fit and she didn’t have the funds to have them repaired. Without her dentures, it affected her overall outlook; she couldn’t smile, she couldn’t eat and she looked older without her dentures.

Cook expressed concern to Pamela Payne, Clinical Education Coordinator for Dental Assisting and Payne then told Morgan Ashburn, (class vice-president) that she would be seeing an additional patient that week.

“It can be one of the most rewarding feelings to be able to help give someone their smile back,” said Ashburn. “I got to experience that feeling (along with my other classmates) over the past couple of months.  You see, you never know who you are going to meet and what kind of impact they will have on your life.”

While the Dental Assisting Program at Forsyth Tech offers free sealant clinics and a reduced price dental clinic, they typically do not work on dentures. However, students voted to use some of their class funds to pay for the repairs made on Ms. Brunson’s dentures so they would fit. The class raised these funds by selling Crest Professional Whitestrips. They use these funds to help pay for their national certification exams through the Dental Assisting National Boards.

“Anyone can be a hero, and these students have proven that,” said Payne. ‘They didn’t realize they had played a part in changing someone’s life – she got her smile back and she can enjoy eating a meal again. It changed Ms. Brunson’s whole attitude on life.”

During the pinning ceremony on July 2, 2018, Ashburn shared the story and commented “Ms. Brunson, you have said over and over to me what a blessing we have been to you, but in all honesty it was the other way around. You have been a huge blessing to me and everyone else, and I am so glad we met!”

She then recognized Brunson as a special guest who stood and smiled for the audience!

Eleven students participated in the class project and were pinned at the ceremony. Two students received faculty selected awards – Morgan Ashburn received the Dental Assisting Clinician Award; Kelly Owens received the Academic Excellence Award.  Geimilyn Genuino received both peer selected awards, Most Dedicated and Best Team Member.

All the students have been offered jobs, so they are all now smiling, too!

In photo: Geimilyn Genuino, Sharon Brunson and Morgan Ashburn.

For more information on the Dental Clinic offered at Forsyth Tech, click here or call 336-734-7550.