Free Smiles with Son Club hopes to brighten smiles of low-income students


Photo used with permission from Dr. Venkat Reddy

Dr. Venkat Reddy smiles for Free Smiles with Son website

It’s a crisp Tuesday morning. You drag yourself out of bed at 9 a.m. and get cleaned up. You brush and floss your teeth extremely well, hoping to avoid a lecture, while your parents are rushing you to hurry up downstairs. You quickly scramble into the car, thinking about how lovely your teeth are going to feel when it’s all over and when you take that first bite of a McDonald’s French fry after 30 minutes are up. Where are you going? To the dentist of course!
For most of us, a dentist appointment is part of our routine. Twice a year you go to get your teeth cleaned and dread the idea of having a cavity. For others however, a cleaning is more of a luxury, and that is why Free Smiles with Son is here to help.
Free Smiles with Son, founded this July by senior Rachel Son, is a local service dedicated to offering low-income students from all schools free dental cleanings and screenings. Son said the idea for the service came from her father. “I decided to start this club to use what I have been blessed with and give back to the community. Growing up with an endodontist for a dad, I was always listening to why dental hygiene is a must and why it is very important. However, I realized that not everyone has the luxury of having access to these services, so, I wanted to give others an opportunity to maintain their dental health,” Son said.

I decided to start this club to use what I have been blessed with and give back to the community.

— Rachel Son

Here’s how it works. Students or parents must visit the Free Smiles with Son website and scroll down to the bottom of the home page. There, they must fill out an application, to ensure that they truly need the service more than other applicants, and email it back to the email listed at the bottom of the screen. If chosen, their address is then used to see which dentist they are closest to and set up an appointment. Dentists include Dr. Dennis Norkiewicz, Dr. Huison Quon, Dr. Susan Chang and Dr. Venkat Reddy. Appointments will be made for all patients as well as their dental cleaning and screening paid for. 

Reddy, a cosmetic and family dentist located in North Bethesda, said he decided to join the service out of friendship. “This is a program that was started by my friend and colleague Dr. Joseph Son’s daughter, Rachel Son, and I wanted to help in any way that I can. Rachel told me a little bit about the program where they raise funds and provide basic dental services to people that need it and can not afford it. I will try to provide basic services like routine oral cancer screenings along with routine dental cleanings and X-rays necessary to diagnose problems and treat them. I thought it was a fantastic idea and I was more than happy to get involved and provide dental services for people  in need. This is my way of giving back to the community and helping people and make a small positive difference in their lives,” Reddy said. 

Other than founder Son, Free Smiles with Son is made up of seniors Tamara Heller, Jenna Shi, Nani Gupta, Arzoe Singh, and Anna Daraselia, as well as Son’s younger brother Daniel Son. Heller is the head of public relations, Shi is the finance director, Gupta is the head of administration, Singh is an ambassador, Daraselia is the client-doctor liaison and D. Son is the head of fundraising.  

Daraselia has high hopes for the results of this service. “My role puts me in charge of connecting the patients with dentists and helping them set up appointments and such. My hopes are that with this organization we’re able to provide an easy and convenient connection between families and dentists so that nobody misses out on dental care, which is something that I believe everyone should have access to,” Daraselia said. 

At this moment, all services have come to a halt due to Covid-19, limiting the capabilities of dentists and scope of people who are able to get help. For more information please visit their website or their Facebook and Instagram @freesmileswithson.