Plastered throughout Ultradent HQ is the mission statement laid out by Founder & CEO Dr. Dan Fisher – “Improve Oral Health Globally.” UPI is proud of its Utah heritage and we believe achieving this mission starts with efforts in our backyard.
In the fall of 2019 we partnered with Smart Smiles (along with many others) to help brighten the back to school season for Salt Lake City area kids.
Several hundred children were invited out for a shopping spree where they were given a $100 gift card and let loose in a Kohl’s department store to buy whatever they wanted. They’d be supervised by volunteers from Discover Card (who supplied the gift card) and pick-out anything they desired—without the constraints of parental supervision/guidance.
The kids could also get their hair cut, nails done, along with teeth cleanings and fluoride procedures.
Several members of Ultradent’s family passed out Opalescence toothpaste to the kids, their families, and fellow volunteers. UPI was represented by Corie Sharp, Suzan Latshaw, Emelie Athmann, and Brenda Nielsen.
“They bring the children in and assess their mouths, clean their teeth, do fluoride varnish and sealants. They have an inter-oral camera and they take pictures of the teeth and send it to an offsite dentist who evaluates the images, types it up, and sends the findings home to the parents. For some kids whose parents can’t afford it, the offsite dentist will invite them in and perform the work [free of charge].”
-- Ultradent’s Corie Sharp
“You could see [the kids] were kinda nervous at the start because they were going in with a stranger, all these strangers around them, their parents weren’t there. You could tell they weren’t sure what to expect. But once they started and saw the mascots and princesses and the music – they played musical hoola hoops – you could tell they were getting more and more comfortable as the day went on.”
-- Ultradent’s Emelie Athmann
“The hygienists would use the stuffed animals and the oversized tooth brush to show the kids how to brush.”
-- Emelie Athmann
“Dapper & Dash was also there doing lice checks and haircuts. There was another station for kids who wanted their hair done and nails painted. There was another trailer that was giving out backpacks and pillows. Another tent was doing eye exams, and then there was Smart Smiles. Each child had a badge and on the back of their badge it would say whether they needed a fluoride treatment or just oral hygiene education. They would explain the importance of oral hygiene, how to brush, and then the hygienists would put fluoride varnish on the teeth of the kids who needed it.”
-- Corie Sharp
“There was one little girl who was so excited to show me her nails […] She was getting her hair curled and her nails done and was so excited. There was a boy who was getting his nails painted blue and he was just so happy.”
-- Corie Sharp
“Whenever I do something like this, I’m so humbled. I’ll get feeling sorry for myself thinking ‘well this just happened or that just happened.’ And then I do something like this and it makes me realize that what I’m going through is nothing compared to what these kids go through. They just don’t have things in their lives and it breaks my heart.”
-- Ultradent’s Suzan Latshaw
“To me it was an emotional day. I would get teared up as I watched the kids get their first, probably, real experience learning how to take care of their teeth […] and then they would get a tube of toothpaste and they were like, ‘for me?’ I had my granddaughter join me because I wanted her to experience giving service, so she could see how lucky she is and how others have so little but they’re still happy.”
-- Ultradent’s Brenda Nielsen
“Discover Card assessed the needs of families and invited them to Kohls. Then when the kids get there, they’re paired with a Discover Card employee. Each employee has a $100 gift card and they take the child into Kohls, where they can pick out anything they want – the shoes they want, the clothes they want, the toys they want. The parents can’t go in, so the child gets to choose what they really want.
There was one kid that didn’t even walk out with a bag. He had a pair of shoes that the Discover Card employee he was with was carrying… and then he had a scooter. It was nice to see that they could pick out what they wanted and not have the parents saying, ‘you need to get this, this and this.’”
-- Corie Sharp
“They had a big bag of everything. They were grinning from ear to ear… it was really cute.”
“It was probably like Christmas to them… a Christmas they probably never get.”
-- Brenda Nielsen
“I wonder how many of these kids have even been to a dentist before? Some of them were scared and the hygienists were just incredible. They loved the kids and made them feel so comfortable. I think your first experience in a dental office can either be really scary or you can have a positive experience. I think that’s what our whole tent did – an extremely positive experience [...] The hygienists were just such an incredible group of ladies. They put the kids at ease. I didn’t see anybody that looked terrified enough to not open their mouth and let the hygienists do what they needed to do.”
“my daughter is five and she didn’t quite understand what we were doing. She wanted to run and play and go inside with the other kids. So I explained to her […] and told her that ‘you’re more fortunate than other kids.’ She was actually handing out toothpaste for me. I would hand her the tube and she’d hand it to another child […] was amazing seeing her giving to someone else.”
-- Emelie Athmann
“I worry about [the kids] not having any dental care up to this point. Imagine the pain they could have been in? That’s what breaks my heart.”
-- Suzan Latshaw