Smiles for America has a campaign to fix a hero’s smile. They chose 50 dentists, in 50 states to help 50 American heroes. A veteran in North Dakota, is one of those chosen heroes. Dr. Heringer, is one of 50 dentist chosen to help him.
After asking for suggestions, he had one patient stand out in his mind: Allen Maier, a Vietnam War veteran, from Streeter, ND.
“Everrett called me and asked me if I would be his Guinea pig,” says Maier.
When Dr. Heringer informed Maier he was chosen, he was hesitant.
Dr. Heringer says, “He didn’t feel as worthy of it but that’s Al. He’s very humble, very surprised, very thankful. If it were up to him we might not have it done, but thanks to his wife and family, they encouraged him to do it.”
Al’s original duty station was supposed to be in Hawaii and he had no intentions of going to Vietnam and no idea what he had signed up for. While in Vietnam, Allen experienced a blast that may have contributed to some of the issues with his old smile, and one incident, that resulted in a purple heart and a damaged tooth.
“After my tour of duty was all over. I noticed I had this little hole in my tooth. Every time I looked in the mirror and saw that little hole, I reflected back to when I was wounded,” says Meyer
Dr. Heringer had been Maier’s dentist since he moved to North Dakota in the 1970’s and from that, came a beautiful friendship.
He explained what work was done to Maier’s teeth, “With time out teeth begin to break down so his front were breaking down a little bit and we’ve done some work over the years to restore those conservatively. So basically what we did we strengthen the teeth with cosmetic crowns. He had a space between his front teeth too and there things that were darker and his personality didn’t match his smile.”
Maier hopes the Smile for America campaign will help make America aware of the sacrifices that are being made by service personnel. He says his new smile takes away any negative thoughts he had about his appearance, but he still knows that so many other people never made it back from the war.
“The 54,000 that are on the wall, I’m doing this to represent them. Not me,” says Maier.
As humble as he is, Maier now knows his friends care.
“I knew Everett’s heart was in the right place, I just didn’t feel worthy. I deeply appreciate what he, Everett, has done for me. I do have a new smile,” he says.