Domestic violence is an epidemic across the nation that often leaves survivors to deal with physical damage that stifles the victims’ chances of moving forward to live successful lives. In 2019 the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s office processed more than 500 felony domestic violence and sexual assault cases. Britney A. Green is the Chief of Domestic Violence at the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office who handles felony domestic violence cases on a daily basis. After seeing that many survivors of domestic violence had been left without a smile because of damaged teeth, she knew something had to be done to serve the needs of the victims.
Green proposed an idea to restore smiles and confidence to victims of domestic violence to her boss, James E. Stewart, the district attorney, who approved of the idea. Concern turned into inspiration, leading the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office along with the Family Justice Center to create the Abounding Smiles initiative in order to provide free dental services to the survivors of domestic violence.
Everyone knows the importance of a winning smile. Damaged teeth can affect peoples’ confidence, self-esteem, and their ability to be gainfully employed. Many domestic violence victims suffer dental injuries, mainly loosened, broken, and lost teeth. Many are unable to afford dental repairs. These dental injuries have a significant impact on the lives of victims. Abounding Smiles is special because the initiative has a direct and immediate impact on the lives of the victims of domestic violence.
Abounding Smiles is a coalition of caring dentists who have agreed to restore domestic violence survivors’ smiles, at no cost to the patient. Part of the mission is to remove any barriers that might stand in the way of restoring the victims’ smiles. If victims require medical care prior to treatment, their care is coordinated through David Raines Community Health Centers. If patients need transportation, transportation is provided to and from their dental appointments.
Abounding Smiles is a program that the district attorney’s office is especially proud of. The most exciting aspect of the program is hearing from the survivors, and their stories of how Abounding Smiles is changing their lives. One victim had been suffering from daily toothaches, to the point of not being able to eat on her most painful days. She began undergoing treatment with the Southern Roots team and Dr. Blaine Calahan. These dental professionals have changed this woman’s life—for the first time in years, she is pain-free.
Green is most proud of the coalition of amazing dentists, who have stepped up to volunteer their services. The volunteers are a skilled group of professionals who are committed to improving the lives of people in our community. Green is also proud of the community partners, the Northwest Louisiana Family Justice Center and David Raines Community Health Centers. They have stood with the district attorney’s office in making sure that the program is successful.
The creators of the Abundant Smiles initiative continue to seek dentists who have a desire to join the program. As people learn about the Abundant Smiles program, requests for services increase and referrals from programs like Project Celebration come in. More volunteer practitioners are necessary in order to meet the goal to serve all victims who qualify for the program.
The Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office wants to recognize the entire roster of amazing dental professionals who are changing the lives of domestic violence survivors:
- Dr. Rodrick Loud – Loud Family Dental
- Dr. Michael Woolbert & Dr. William “Bill” Hall – Woolbert & Hall Dental
- Dr. Larry Robinson – Larry Robinson, DDS
- Dr. Douglas Talley – Douglas T Talley, DDS
- Southern Roots Dentistry
- David Raines Community Health Center
- Dr. James “Jay” Sikes – Oral Surgery