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CLINE: Dental group helping in fight against breast cancer

Todd Cline

Todd Cline

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L to Right Bruce E. Carter, DMD; Tina Heil Herrington DMD; Philip Wolfe, President and CEO Gwinnett Medical Center; Kimberly Hutcherson, MD (oncologist) ; Cynthia Snyder,RN

Everywhere you look this month you see pink. From lapel pins to special events to the survivor stories you've seen in the Saturday editions of the Daily Post, people are doing their part to publicize Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Heck, even the NFL is getting in on the act, with players and coaches wearing pink items that will later be auctioned off to raise funds for the American Cancer Society.

But this month Bruce Carter also wants you to think about the color white, as in teeth. Carter is part of Brighter Smiles For A Brighter Future -- a group of dentists who are raising funds to help in the fight against breast cancer by donating their professional bleaching services in return for charitable donations for the cause. And this fundraising campaign isn't limited to October -- it will continue until January of next year.

In 2004, inspired by the diagnosis of his sister-in-law as well as a few of his dental patients, Carter decided to team up with the Gwinnett Medical Center Foundation's campaign called Time Matters in the Fight Against Breast Cancer to raise money to purchase digital mammography units for the hospital's Women's Breast Center. This year the group is poised to near the $1 million mark in donations raised, and its contributions have made an impact at the hospital. Women can now learn the results of their mammograms the same day they come versus the week-long wait it took in the past.

"I have a real passion for the hospital," said Carter, who both lives and practices in Lawrenceville. "I've seen all the good things they've done at the women's pavilion."

This year the group -- which Carter co-chairs with Dr. Tina Heil Herrington -- has a goal of raising $80,000, which they want to use to help the hospital buy a Breast Tomosythesis machine. The machine provides new X-ray imaging technology that acquires three-dimensional images of the compressed breast.

"This will greatly improve the diagnostic ability of the physicians and will save lives," Carter said.

In addition to teeth whitening, money is raised by other donated procedures done by the volunteer dentists and via donations by corporate sponsors and dental specialists. The group is always looking for more dentists to participate, and those interested can contact Beverly O'Toole of the Gwinnett Medical Foundation via email at btoole@gwinnettmedicalcenter.org. O'Toole can also help patients find a dentist who participates in the program.

Carter's foray into the fight against cancer started in 2001 when he founded the Brighter Smiles campaign. In the following two years he added 15 more dentists to the group over the next two years, raising more than $104,000 for Gwinnett's Relay for Life through the teeth whitening campaign. Now the group is up to more than 40 dentists participating, and their contributions have been a huge boost for GMC in the fight against breast cancer.

"We've got a great community that has pulled together and made this happen," Carter said.

Email Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Wednesdays.