It took his single mother 3 years to save up the 1/2 upfront payment required to begin his dental work.
When Ali was 3 years old, one of his front teeth became abscessed and had to be pulled to keep it from damaging his entire mouth. As a young child, missing a front tooth wasn't a big deal, but as Ali grew older, gum tissue built up where his tooth had been preventing his adult tooth from coming in. The older Ali got, the more the scar tissue grew, and the more he was teased about his teeth. The teasing turned into bullying, which Ali hid, but his mother was alert to the fact that there was a problem as Ali's normally good grades began to drop and his outgoing personality became reserved.
As a single working mom, it took Ali's mother 3 years to save up the 1/2 upfront payment required to begin the procedures necessary to repair Ali's smile. It was difficult, but she was willing to work overtime and do whatever she needed to help Ali feel better about himself.
When they visited Dr Sparkman to begin the process of restoring his smile, Ali was 11 years old. The bullying had been going on a long time. His mother remembers, "Ali never wanted to take pictures. He kept his mouth closed all the time – he had such low self-esteem."
Dr Sparkman told Ali and his mom about the Brighter Smiles Initiative of the Ryan Palmer Foundation and suggested they apply. Not even a week later, Ali was accepted. Ali was so happy he began to cry. He didn't even mind the procedures – he knew in the end he would have a great smile.
Ali's mom would no longer have to struggle to save the money to finish his treatment. "It was such a huge relief to find out he was accepted. It's a one in a thousand chance to get that privilege. I know there are other kids who need it too."
Now Ali smiles all the time. He's no longer the brunt of cruel jokes; his grades and his willingness to engage with the world have improved drastically. Ali's brighter future has begun... and you can see for yourself how bright his smile.