Santana first visited Community Smiles Dental in Waukesha when she was twelve years old. Little did she know this visit would change the course of her life.
Santana didn’t remember going to the dentist before and was very nervous. “I had heard that dentists pull your teeth out and cause pain,” she remembered.
Dental Hygienist Jenny took time to answer all of Santana’s questions. “Once I got in the chair, I started to feel safe and comfortable,” said Santana. “By the end I knew I wanted to come back. I couldn’t wait to see Jenny again!
Community Smiles Dental improves the lives of underserved community members through oral healthcare services, preventive education, and advocating for systemic healthcare change. A major focus of their work is helping patients of all ages feel comfortable at their dental visits.
In the four-county greater Milwaukee area, more than 125,000 children are on state insurance, and their options for dental care are extremely limited. Community Smiles Dental is one of the only dental providers in the region for patients on state insurance, including children, pregnant women, and people with special needs.
Your donations to United Way’s Community Fund and the Health Improvement Fund enables Community Smiles Dental to serve thousands of children each year who might otherwise go without dental care.
As Santana got older, she continued visiting Community Smiles Dental for regular dental checkups with Jenny. When she became a mom, Santana brought her children to Community Smiles Dental as soon as they got their first teeth.
“Starting early with dental care is really important,” said Jenny, now the clinic manager at Community Smiles Dental. “Any type of tooth pain impacts kids all day every day, and they often miss school because of it. If their parents don’t know where to take them, this can have a major impact on their quality of life.”
“My relationship with Jenny made me realize that going to the dentist is important. I wish I had had that experience a lot sooner,” said Santana. “My kids know how important it is to go to the dentist and brush their teeth. They were never afraid because they knew I was comfortable at Community Smiles Dental.”
But Santana’s story doesn’t end there. In 2019, Santana graduated from Waukesha County Technical College with her dental assistant degree and began working at Community Smiles Dental herself. Due to COVID, Santana had to leave her work to support her children’s virtual learning but cannot wait to be back.
“I am so grateful for Community Smiles Dental,” said Santana. “They are my dental family!”
When you give to United Way, you're not just making a donation. You're changing a life. Santana and Community Smiles Dental remind us all that, to live better, we must Live United.