Vail Valley Charitable Fund: The ‘lucky’ accident |

Vail Valley Charitable Fund: The ‘lucky’ accident

Meg Houghton
Valley Voices
Meg Houghton

It was just a typical Wednesday afternoon for young Ethan — up until he accidentally tripped and sadly cracked his front top tooth. Lucky for him, this accident brought him into the dental chair for the first time in his nine years of life. His front tooth ended up fine, but what we found was a little more interesting — a mouth full of cavities and infections.

Ethan needed seven crowns, five fillings, two extractions, six nerve treatments, and two space maintainers. And he needed it soon to prevent the spread of infection and to stop the pain he had grown accustomed to. He was nervous, to say the least, and his family was even more nervous about the cost.

Thankfully, we reached out to Eagle County Smiles to assist Ethan. Now in its 13th year of operation, Eagle County Smiles is a community collaborative program of the Vail Valley Charitable Fund that offers low-cost dental care to Vail Valley’s uninsured children, ages birth through 18 years. Over 900 children have been served by the program since its inception in 2010. Ethan is among those numbers.

Eagle County Smiles stepped in and helped Ethan and his family receive the help they so desperately needed, paying $2,732 of the $6,356 bill total. All Kids Dental covered $3,779. All Ethan’s family was responsible for was the $25 co-pay.

While not the ideal circumstances, we are lucky that Ethan fell that day so he could receive the dental care he needed. We had the opportunity to teach him and his sibling dental hygiene, schedule them for immediate cleanings and continue seeing the family every six months to prevent further needs for extensive treatment.

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We are grateful it wasn’t a devastating blow to this family financially, that we were able to work together with the Vail Valley Charitable Fund through the Eagle County Smiles program and give Ethan the care he deserved. Can you imagine the pain he lived with every day as the infections and cavities plagued his mouth? Hard to imagine how that pain dampened his sleeping, playing and learning.

Eagle County Smiles helps uninsured children in Vail Valley develop relationships with local dental providers. They’re helping children learn life-long dental habits to maintain a happy and healthy smile. The program depends upon the collaboration of dozens of community partners including nurses, doctors, public agencies and nonprofit leaders. The program’s goal is to help any child who needs it, whether it’s a simple teeth cleaning or something more serious.

Eagle County Smiles changed Ethan’s life — and so can you. Make a difference today by supporting this program at

Meg Houghton is the culture and marketing manager for All Kids Dental.

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