free smiles in Grand Haven


There was plenty to smile about in Grand Haven, Michigan on May 18. Free dentistry was offered at two locations by Smile Grand Haven. 1203 S. Beechtree St. and the office of Drs. Thornley & Bowen at 17000Robins Rd. The two locations were hosts to the annual event, Smiles From the Heart, which was first established in 2010.  Smile Grand Haven has teamed up with dozens of volunteers to provide free dentistry to people in need, regardless of income or age.

“There are people out there that need these services, but have no means to afford them,” said Dr. Darren Riopelle of Smile Grand Haven. “Smiles From the Heart is our way of giving back to the community.”

The free event offers services ranging from cleaning and fillings to extractions. In 2012, over 180 patients were helped and over $75,000 worth of dental services was provided.

According to Riopelle, “Having an unhealthy mouth can really affect a person’s entire body. Some people we see need a cleaning in order to maintain a healthy mouth. But for others we eliminate or deter pain and infection. Its an empowering day for both patients and volunteers,” said Riopelle.

At this year’s event, the Grand Haven Tribune counted a lucky 225 patients that received free dental care between the two locations. Among the free dental care received, patients were issued toothpaste, toothbrushes, and dental floss after their appointment.

Lisa Nelson, a team leader at Smile Grand Haven/Little Smiles explained that patients began lining up at two in the morning and were incredibly gracious and thankful for the care they received. “The community really came together to help,” Nelson said. “We had over 60 volunteers for the event. I’d say about 80 percent of the patients were locals, but we also saw people from Northern Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois.”


More information on this wonderful event can be found at the Grand Haven Tribune website as well as on Facebook on the Smiles From the Heart event page.