Dentist Giving Fort Lauderdale Homeless Something to Smile About - NBC 6 South Florida

Dentist Giving Fort Lauderdale Homeless Something to Smile About

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    A dentist who some are calling a miracle worker has changed the lives of hundreds of homeless in Fort Lauderdale. (Published Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015)

    A dentist who some are calling a miracle worker has changed the lives of hundreds of homeless in Fort Lauderdale.

    “You can’t help but think that people are looking at your teeth," said James Jankowski, who gets a nostalgic feeling sitting back in the dental chair. "This is the chair that made it happen.”

    Jankowski was homeless and with many missing or rotten teeth, his confidence was pretty low.

    “You’re out there in society and people look at you and you can’t help but think they’re looking at my mouth thinking 'this guy's an alcoholic or this guy's a meth addict,'" he said.

    But he now has a job, an apartment, a second shot at life thanks to the Broward Partnership Homeless Shelter and the hidden gem inside, Dr. Lisa Silverberg.

    “I loved it from the first day I was here. I saw so much need," Silverberg said.

    It all started with an ad for a dentist in the paper. But her job quickly became a calling.

    “The people that I see have never seen a dentist before,” she said.

    But at first her work felt incomplete.

    "I had patients that had missing teeth, especially in the front and I had young people," Silverberg said. "And after we did everything we could they still had missing teeth.”

    So she incredibly came up with her own method of re-creating smiles, like Jankowski's.

    “Using this material called ribboned, which is a bonded fiber, and I said 'let me see if I could use that material," she said. "And it just came out fantastically and I went and starting doing two teeth and three teeth and four teeth.”

    For patient after patient after patient, Silverberg has given so many homeless another shot at everything.

    “I want to say thank you for everything. She’s opened my eyes to new things and reminded of things I had forgotten about for a long time," Jankowski said.

    “I totally feel blessed to have the opportunity to do this for everybody," she said.

    Another one of her patients is Charles Kelly. He said he didn’t really smile for ten years until they met.

    “Now I smile and they say 'wow, you have a nice smile. And I say 'oh man, Dr. Silverberg Yaaa!" he said.

    The whole facility is funded through grants and donations. For more information, visit www.bphi.org.

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