'Smiles for Survivors' Expands to Northern Nevada - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

'Smiles for Survivors' Expands to Northern Nevada

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Dr. Chelsea Dean has a dental practice in Sparks and also volunteers for a group called "Smiles for Survivors," a non-profit organization that offers free dental services for select breast cancer patients whose cancer treatments have caused serious oral health issues.

“A lot of patients develop oral health issues in and around the gum line often due to dry mouth caused by cancer treatment. We offer these patients the proper dental care for all these types of little known problems.”

The program was started six years ago in Las Vegas by Dr. Olya Banchik, who says cancer survivors often have a lot of difficulty dealing with the physical and financial fall-out of cancer treatment.

“When they're diagnosed, they're fighting for their lives and they're usually not advised that it's a good idea to see a dentist.”

All breast cancer patients undergoing treatment run the risk of having dental problems. Smiles for Survivors is specifically reaching out to women with breast cancer to assist with these complications.

“About 8 years ago my mom was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer.”

“Watching someone I love go through that made me realize that I can at least do this one thing and maybe help someone feel better about their life.”

After cancer treatments, most survivors don't have any money left to care for their teeth, so Smiles for Survivors provides care for select patients free of charge. One of Dr. Dean's patients needed extensive services.

“Despite having a long and extensive procedure, she couldn’t stop grinning and she looked at me and said ‘You gave me my smile back.’”

Smiles for Survivors is now looking for patients in Northern Nevada who need care as well as local dentists to volunteer their services.
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