If it hasn’t been made evident by now, we love people here at AAT! We love hearing about their stories and passions for our community, but we also love hearing about what our fellow locals do and why they do it! For example, we have some wonderful neighbors who own/manager some fantastic local businesses and serve our town tremendously by doing so! This fact is why AAT has partnered up with our good friends at B3 Glass, to bring you all “Small Business Fridays!” Each week, we’ll feature a different, local small business and talk with its owner and hear about their journey, their business in general, as well as their heart for their customers and our city!
This week, we’re joined by Dr. Brian Anderson of Elko Dental Specialists. Let me (Anthony Crosby) tell you, right off the bat, that their office is amazing! They have a wonderful staff over there; however, we’re not here today to necessarily talk about the practice. Dr. Anderson is joining us to chat about their anti-bullying campaign! In case you have not heard about what they’re doing, EDS is looking to provide FREE orthodontic treatment to local students who have been bullied and could benefit from the assistance. Their goal is to provide this life-changing treatment to one patient per quarter!
Dr. Anderson, thank you so much for joining us today to discuss this outreach. From where did you get the idea to do something so impacting?
“About eighteen months ago, we started a campaign called Paying it Forward. We had people write in to nominate someone, other than themselves, for free treatment. It was cool to hear so many stories of people nominating others; I was really touched. I realized that so many people go through so much more than you would know just by looking at the surface.
“I gradually wanted to turn the Paying it Forward campaign into an anti-bullying thing because I think bullying is a big problem; I don’t think there is enough awareness about it. It’s not okay, and it can be very damaging psychologically. So, in February of 2019, I unofficially launched the anti-bullying movement!
“I’ve wanted to do something for a long time to be involved and give back. I believe that orthodontics is like this superpower that can dramatically change people’s lives, and I wanted to do that for people who otherwise couldn’t or wouldn’t be a patient.
“We all need to be connected with other people; this is a basic human need. When we’re connected in a positive way, it touches you in a way that nothing else can. I’m able to connect with people in my work every day as an orthodontist and help people feel more comfortable with themselves. That’s what I’ve wanted to do ever since I was fifteen! Going into high school, I had just gotten my braces off, and I remember going in feeling more assured, and I want to help someone else have that kind of confidence in their life. It feels really good to be connected!”
It’s such a fantastic idea, but it’s also a relatively new one. How did the community respond when you started putting the concept out there this year, and can you tell us a little bit about the first patient to receive this free service?
“The response from the community was overwhelmingly positive! People were excited about it. I even got a lot of messages from people just asking how they could help! I think people recognize it as something important.
“He was actually nominated by his teacher. It was the most touching email. She sent us an essay with some detail, and it was such a tender story. He was this young, grade school kid who was being raised by his grandparents and had speech issues, impart because of his teeth. She explained how he would get teased at recess and how all the teachers and staff know him by name and try to watch out for him.”
Dr. Anderson, what has this entire mission meant to you, personally? What is your big-picture vision for it, and how has it impacted your life so far?
“Yes, we’re able to practically change lives through this, but, in addition to that, I also wanted to start a conversation in the community. We only have so many patients we can give the treatment to, so I was hoping it would launch a ripple effect and get people thinking about bullying. I hope it raises awareness and gets parents to start talking with their kids about bullying.
“There’s something about providing a service and not being rewarded for it monetarily that makes it more meaningful. When you get to donate your time and services to someone else, it’s really rewarding. Honestly, my experiences doing those types of treatments have been some of the most rewarding and memorable in my entire career!”
If somebody would like to nominate a young person for this treatment after reading this, what would be their best way to go about it?
“The ideal thing would be to come in and write a story to describe the child’s situation or bring that write up by. Part of this is to promote a sense of community, so I would like to meet face-to-face and get to know the person. They can do it over email if they can’t make it in, but I would really love for them to stop by!”
Well, I think this is such a speculator thing you’re doing, and I hope the idea of overcoming bullying is one that spreads throughout the community like wildfire because of this. Thank you, Dr. Anderson, to you and your entire team! Is there anything else you’d like to share before we let you get back to creating beautiful smiles?
“I really do love this community. I feel like I’m a part of this community and that it’s embraced me. For me, this is a small way for me to show my appreciation and give back.”
You can stay caught up on everything going on around here at AAT by checking out our “Stay Connected” page! Make sure you never miss a feature!
See you around, Elko!
Written by: Anthony Crosby
Edited by: Nadara Merrill