Twelve-year-old Mark Lee from Loon, Bohol, suffered broken front tooth after an accident a year ago. The incident changed his life and stopped him from flashing his biggest and most genuine smile again.

Mark Lee was playing with his friends one day when he accidentally bumped his mouth in an iron post. His front Tooth was broken, and the gums around it swelled up. Mark carried the pain for the next several days.

His parents wanted to send him to a dentist for consultation but they have no means to take him to a dental clinic. Dental consultation fees in private clinic costs Php 300 in their town, excluding the payment of the procedure needed to repair his front tooth. His father’s income as a fisherman could barely support the needs of the family with eleven members.

Mark’s agony lasted for more than a week. Eating and chewing became relatively painful. The incident took a toll physically and emotionally for the young boy.

โ€œThe pain was unbearable after the incident. My whole mouth was swollen, especially my gums and lips. After several days, I noticed that my mouth emits foul odor. My classmates would tell me that my mouth stinks. I was too shy to smile because of my smelly breath and broken tooth”, recalled Mark Lee.

Mark was no longer able to flash his perfect smile after the incident. But his hands continued to do warm gestures that endeared him to the hearts of many people. He helped his family by doing part-time jobs to earn money. During weekends and school breaks, he lives with a relative to run errands and help out with house chores for a fee. His income from his seasonal job would be spent for his allowance and school projects. Mark was determined to help his family, even in a small way.

On March 2019, Tzu Chi Foundation conducted a free dental clinic in Mark Lee’s school in Calayugan Elementary School. Mark was happy that Tzu Chi brought the dental services in their remote town. Dental services like tooth extraction, filling, and oral prophylaxis or cleaning, are just as important as physical check-up, to maintain the oral health of the children.

TIMA dentist, Dr. Raymund Lim is the overall in charge of the free dental operation around the elementary schools of Loon.

Upon checking on Mark Lee’s teeth, Dr. Lim recommended him to undergo Root Canal Procedure to treat his damaged teeth. The treatment will eventually bring back smiling, biting, and chewing with ease.

Mark’s parents were happy when they learned about the free procedure.

โ€œI heard about the free dental clinic through Mark Lee’s teacher. I had him enlisted for the free clinic. But the procedure was not carried out then because of lack of dental tools for the special procedure. They booked us for Dr. Lim’s dental clinic,” says Mark Lee’s mother.

Two week after the dental operation in Loon, Mark Lee underwent a Root Canal Procedure in Dr. Lim’s private clinic in Tagbilaran City. The procedure was done in one day. The dentist took an x-ray of the affected teeth to allow him to build a clear picture of the root canal and assess the extent of the damage. Then, the dentist checked for damaged pulp and removed it. He then enlarged the root canal for easier filling. The teeth was then sealed using a temporary filling and medication. After a few hours, the temporary filling and the medication within the tooth were removed and the root canal filling was inserted. The filling seals the tooth and prevents reinfection. Finally, few weeks after, the crown was removed.

After the procedure Mark Lee was able to flash his huge smile again.

โ€œThe procedure brought back the smile in my face. I am no longer ashamed to show my smile to the people around me. I am confident now. I feel happy. My classmates no longer taunt me for having a bad breath. I am truly grateful to Tzu Chi Foundation for giving me back the confidence to smile and talk with other people,” Marks says.

True enough, the procedure repaired Mark’s broken tooth and restored it back to its original form. But most of all, it brought out the inner confidence in him; echoed with sweet and genuine smile that comes from his pure heart.