A cosmetic dentist in Portsmouth says he has been "blessed" to meet the homeless shelter worker whose smile he is fixing for free.

Vitali Bondar of Smile Design Center on Rye Street was chosen by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry for the "50 Heroes in 50 States" celebration earlier this year. He is representing New Hampshire in the Smiles for America campaign.

"The goal is to provide smiles to American heroes commemorating the 20th anniversary of 9/11," Bondar said.

Dr. Vitali Bondar

Due to scheduling and clinical reasons, Bondar ended up choosing a woman named Patricia who has been working at the same shelter for 10 years and needed teeth removed, crowns, veneers, implants and sinus bone grafts.

This will take more than the allotted time for the campaign - about a year - but Bondar felt that Patricia deserved the best possible treatment.

"I understood she was not a cosmetic cookie-cutter case. She was in pretty dire need of treatment and she couldn't afford it," Bondar said. "We have been blessed and honored to work with her."

Patricia said she was on Facebook when she saw an advertisement for Bondar's search for a candidate for the free work and she decided to apply.

"You see, I work in a homeless shelter. Nobody thinks of us as first responders, until they need us. We are open 24/7. We never closed during COVID. We did not have to turn anyone away," the woman said in a statement.

Patricia said it's more than just a smile: She is getting her confidence back.

Patricia before and after.

The estimated cost of the work being performed for free is $35,000.

For more information about Smiles For America, click here.

Contact Managing News Editor Kimberley Haas at Kimberley.Haas@townsquaremedia.com. 

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