For most of the year, dentists collect a fee from each patient who sits in the chair.
But from February through May, a handful of Queens dentists forego the dentist's fee for a tooth-whitening procedure in the name of charity.
Dr. Edward Flatow, who practices in Forest Hills, is one of them. He is a member of the Crown Council, a national dentists' organization that is running a campaign to raise money for children's cancer research.
The process is simple. The dentist performs the tooth-whitening procedure, which at Flatow's 71st Road office costs $500, and, rather than paying the dentist's office, makes a donation to St. Jude's Children's Hospital through the Smiles For Life foundation in the amount of the procedure.
As an added bonus the patient pays only half the cost of the procedure - $250 - instead of the full amount. The payment goes to the Utah-based Smiles For Life.
"It's just something I do to help the kids," Flatow says. He acknowledges that sacrificing a dentist's fee goes against a businessman's principles.
"I haven't had a patient ask me yet why I'm doing it. I feel you have to give back to the profession and one way to do that is through charity, especially for children who have cancer."
Flatow, who grew up near Alley Pond Park and lived in Forest Hills for five years after he opened his practice in 1987, has three children, "thankfully who are all healthy," he says.
He became involved in the fund-raising campaign two years ago.
The campaign last year raised $3.5 million for St. Jude's. This year the council is joining forces with country music star Garth Brooks, co-founder and chairman of the Touch'em All Foundation.
The group also enlisted the help of talk show host Rosie O'Donnell, who made a brief pitch for the campaign on her broadcast Feb. 7.
Other Queens dentists participating in the program are: in Flushing, Dr. Shilpa R. Trivedi; in Bayside, Dr. Ronald M. Nagelberg; and in Ridgewood Dr. Vivian Aiuto.
Flatow says the only payback to participating in the fund-raising drive is the knowledge that his services are going toward charity.
"Anything for the kids," he says.
For more information about Smiles For Life, visit their website at www.smiles4life.com or call 1-877-4SMILES.
©2000 Community News Group
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