Your smile directly affects your confidence and self-esteem, which is why a bright, healthy smile is important, especially for young people. Dr. Ryan J. Cox of Pridemore & Cox Orthodontics realized this from an early age.

After having extensive orthodontic work as a child, he developed an interest in the profession and asked his orthodontist if he could shadow him to learn more. Before long, the young Ryan Cox began working after school, making retainers and bleaching trays and keeping re-cords. He followed his passion through college, ultimately graduating from the University of Alabama with a doctorate degree and certificate in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics.

Cox’s commitment to excellence is reflected in the fact that Pridemore & Cox has been voted the Rome News-Tribune Reader’s Choice Best Orthodontist of Rome five times. He is truly dedicated to bringing positive change to the lives of his patients, and he loves to see their confidence and self-esteem grow.

“I feel blessed to live and work in such a wonderful community and am proud to offer excellence in orthodontics in a family friendly atmosphere,” he says. “I am inspired by the moment when our patients see their amazing new smile.”

Always looking for ways to use his talent to serve others, Dr. Cox has been involved in several mission trips around the world since he began his dental career. He also got involved with the Smile for a Lifetime Foundation, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to provide quality orthodontic treatment to young people who are unable to achieve a healthy, confident smile without financial assistance.

Smile for a Lifetime (S4L) is comprised of 165 chapters in 45 states, with each helping six or more young people between the ages of 11 and 18 per year. By the end of 2015, S4L had donated around $25 million in orthodontic services.

"We want our events to benefit our neighbors as well. We want to help them put on events and to reach people, too. That’s what it is about.”

Dr. Cox and his team have been working with S4L for the past two years. “Last year, we were able to start treatment on eight deserving children at our practice through our Smile for a Lifetime program,” he says. “These kids are receiving new smiles that will carry them into the future, giving them confidence to achieve their goals and dreams.”

To be eligible for the S4L program, a child must have a significant aesthetic need for braces and be able to demonstrate financial need. Applications are submitted on an ongoing basis and reviewed quarterly by an independent board of directors who selects each candidate. S4L covers any orthodontics that can be corrected with braces and appliances.

Dr. Cox says that many organizations that donate orthodontic treatment ask the recipients to pay it forward by contributing a small amount to cover the cost of the next child to be treated, typically around $600. “When I was forming and structuring our Smile for a Lifetime chapter, this bothered me,” he says. “How would someone who is truly in need of a free service be able to come up with that amount of money? Forbes magazine recently wrote an article stating that 63 percent of Americans do not have enough money in their bank account to cover a $500 emergency, so how will these patients come up with $600?”

It was then that he came up with a great idea. Instead of asking his recipients to pay it forward with money, he asks them to support their local community by committing 10 hours of their time to community service in an area of their choosing, whether it is their church, school, a local shelter or another charitable organization. This way, every child selected for the S4L program realizes that he or she has the power to impact the community in a positive way.

“I believe giving is not always about money; it’s about understanding other people’s struggles and caring enough to help out,” says Dr. Cox. “Therefore, my team and I donate our time and talents free of cost. I have also made arrangements with several orthodontic supply companies to donate braces and auxiliaries used in treatment.”

To learn more about the Rome chapter of Smile for a Lifetime or find out how you can help, contact Andrea Weaver at Pridemore & Cox Orthodontics by calling 706-234-0877.