Health

Going the Extra Smile: Recovering drug addicts get dentures

OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) – In less than four months of existence, God Smile Ministry is already impacting lives through improving their oral health.

On Thursday (Jan. 9), the second and third patients of the faith-based nonprofit were being treated by Dr. Janet Rowland at her Rowland Family Dentistry office at 1030 Burlew Blvd. for what will be new dentures.

Rowland has partnered with God Smile Ministry founder and Director Michael Magan who brought the idea of helping recovering drug addicts regain their smiles.

“The mission of our practice is that we would serve our patients, serve our community and serve one another,” Rowland said. “… So when he presented an opportunity to provide dentures to people who have been in recovery, and a past they would like to move forward from, that really meets our mission.”

Magan, 50, is a recovering opioid addict, who has dealt with his own oral health problems through years of drug abuse.



But it wasn’t until Magan was attending a recovery meeting that the idea of providing new dentures struck him.

“There was this beautiful girl sitting across from me and she didn’t have any teeth but you could just feel God in her,” Magan said. “I said, ‘God, why don’t we get her some teeth?’ ”

From there, Magan took to social media about aiding recovering addicts afford dentures.

He started a Go Fund Me page and began receiving donations to initiate the God Smile Ministry, which is a 501c3 nonprofit.

Along with Magan, Alicia Stewart, Tiffany Kipling, Kelly Cunningham and Debbie Clark help oversee the ministry.

“The deal about recovery is when you first get sober you have financial amends; you got children to take care of; you got bills,” Magan said. “So a lot of times alcoholics and addicts in recovery put (their teeth) on the back burner.”

Although methamphetamine abuse is associated with poor dental health, often referred to as “meth mouth,” Rowland said most illicit drugs have a negative effect on a person’s overall hygiene.

“So No. 1, the drug use is toxic to the body; so if it’s toxic to the body, it’s toxic to all of the body’s structures, including the teeth,” Rowland said. “The second piece of that is, when a lot of people are involved in abuse of these toxic substances, their priority is not self care. They don’t brush their teeth; they don’t go to the dentist; they eat foods that are not good for them … it’s a domino effect.”

Sean Beasley, 36, is one of the first three patients being treated through God Smile Ministry.

Beasley, a recovering addict, said he had been going without teeth since losing his original dentures about two years ago.

“… I just couldn’t afford to go get them again,” Beasley said. “… So it means the world to me that anyone would take time to do things like this for people. I know it’s going to help me get a great amount of confidence back as well.”

But along with treating people’s oral health, both Magan and Rowland hope to improve their spiritual well-being by witnessing to them and showing them God’s love.

Magan said spreading the Gospel of Jesus is an essential part of the ministry.

“We use this as a way to show them to Christ,” Magan said. “So we’re not only helping them get dentures, we’re helping them find Christ.”

The group is planning a spaghetti dinner fundraiser on Jan. 25 at 3 p.m. at Unity Fellowship Church, 625 Allen St. The dinner includes spaghetti, salad and drink for $5.

God Smile Ministry is aimed strictly at recovering addicts and there is an application process.

Those interested in an application or who want to donate to the cause can contact Magan at 859-636-8680.

“Not only are they getting a beautiful smile to change the community but they’re also finding something much larger than recovery,” Magan said.

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