Highland News Leader

Highland dental office provides free care to veterans with Smiles & Salutes event

The Smile Shoppe will honor Veterans Day again this year by offering their Smiles & Salutes event Friday, Nov. 8.

For the past two years, the Highland-based family dental office has held a free dental care day for local military veterans to thank them for their service. Drs. Byron Barker and Darren Altadonna have led the event alongside members of their assisting, hygiene, and business staff. Overall, they have administered hygiene or restorative care to over a dozen veterans and provided thousands of dollars worth of free dental care.

The dentists and staff at The Smile Shoppe know how important dental health is, both for self-esteem and for the overall health of the body. Oral problems such as gum disease can have far-reaching impacts such as increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and miscarriage.

“We never want anyone to suffer poor health, and dental care is very important to that. In particular, we wanted to make sure that those who selflessly served our country had access to proper dental care, which is why we are so passionate about this event,” Barker.

Barker noted The Smile Shoppe couldn’t make this event happen without the help of the whole staff.

“I’m very lucky to have a team that values giving back to the community as much as I do,” he said.

The Smile Shoppe offered this event for the first time in 2017, when they participated in Illinois Dentists Salute, a program put together by the Illinois Dental Society. When the society did not repeat the program in 2018, The Smile Shoppe made the decision to continue this service, launching Smiles & Salutes, which will be a yearly event benefiting the veterans of Highland and its neighboring communities.

The Smile Shoppe encourages veterans to call if they are interested in participating. Appointment times are limited, but they will work to fit as many veterans in as possible.

All services provided at the Smiles & Salutes event are completely free to the participants, and insurance status does not affect participation.

The Smile Shoppe hopes to continue growing the program every year, in a desire to ensure no veterans suffer the consequences of poor dental health.

For more information, call Kim or Ana at The Smile Shoppe at 618-654-9866 to reserve a spot. The Smile Shoppe is located at 1117 Washington St. in Highland.