Dr. Vincent Monticciolo founded Dentistry with a Heart in 2001 to provide free dental care to those in need.
NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. -- Dr. Vincent Monticciolo has literally put a smile on the face of thousands of people who might not otherwise been able to afford it.
"There's always been a need," says Monticciolo, "and now we've seen an increase in the need. In the economic environment that we're in, we see it daily."
In 2001, when Monticciolo founded Dentistry with a Heart, people camped out overnight for the free dental care he and his colleagues provided.
The group is part of the 100 million Americans without dental insurance.
Monticciolo and his fellow dentists' work gives people who've often lived in pain a reason to smile again. It also offers them hope, says Monticciolo. "To go out and to feel good about themselves and be able to get a job, go out on an interview, it really changes their lives and that's what we're trying to do."
When Dr. Monticciolo started the program ten years ago, it was basically him and his staff in their New Port Richey office. Today, Dentistry with a Heart has spread to 49 states and Canada. Great Britain and Australia have also expressed interest.
With that success, participating dentists have now seen over 50,000 patients, providing more than $8,000,000 in free dental care.
For a guy who just wanted to give back to his community, it's humbling, says Monticciolo. "We never knew it would grow to this point. I think it's great and it shows a real spirit."
Stefanie Shaefer, a regular patient of Dr. Monticciolo, is aware of his charity. "It's just a great thing that he does," she says.
Tiffany Nicosia, who's been seeing Dr. Monticciolo for several years now, agrees. "It makes him a God-send," she says.
Soon, Dr. Monticciolo hopes to do even more in the Bay area. He's opening a second office in Tampa and is teaming with a local charity to provide free dentistry on a more regular basis.
That's how Dr. Monticciolo is making a difference - one smile at a time. "And that's kind of my legacy," he says. "When I'm finished doing dentistry, I'm still going to be giving dentistry."