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For years Travis McGowan lived with a multitude of dental problems. The former Marine was embarrassed to smile and could eat only soft food.

Unsure of where to turn, the Farmingdale resident visited the team at Catholic Health’s St. Charles Hospital’s Steven B. Gold Dental Clinic during its annual Give Veterans a Smile Day. The event provides men and women who have served our country in the armed forces with quality dental care free of charge.

A member of the United States Marine Corps from 2008 to 2012 who served in Afghanistan, McGowan lives with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is recovering from a serious brain injury he suffered while stateside. He feels those issues were a contributing factor to him being less than vigilant with his daily dental care routine.

“I would often forget to floss and brush and eventually my teeth starting breaking down,” McGowan said. “It got to the point where I could only eat soft food.”

Informed by the Veterans Administration about the St. Charles dental program, he met with the hospital’s Department of Dentistry Director Keri Logan, DMD.

“Meeting Dr. Logan was a Godsend,” he said.

To cover the more than $10,000 cost of the dental work McGowan needed, Dr. Logan was able to use grant money from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation.

“In February of 2020, we told Travis that we would be able to do the dental work he needed and he was thrilled,” Dr. Logan said. “While the COVID-19 pandemic delayed that a bit, we were finally able to get started this past June.”

Over the period of several weeks, McGowan received dental services that included eight crowns, two root canals, several fillings, a partial denture and a couple of extractions. In total, the dental team at St. Charles did about 50 hours of work.

“When I first met with everyone at St. Charles I wasn’t sure what to expect,” McGowan said. “But they did an amazing job. I was able to finally look at myself in the mirror and smile. That was something I had not done for many years.”

When his dental work was complete, McGowan joined his wife and son for a meal he waited a long time to enjoy. “We went out for a steak dinner,” he said. “That was something I was really looking forward to having.”

Happy to have a healthy mouth, and willing to show off his new smile, McGowan said the dental work he received has also boosted his confidence. He is also thankful to the dental team who treated him.

“I’m not sure I can put into words how I feel about everyone at St. Charles who helped me,” he said. “They are an amazing team!”

Dr. Logan said the support the St. Charles dental clinic receives from the Mother Cabrini Foundation has been used to purchase new equipment and has allowed the hospital to expand the program to serve a greater number of patients in need of dental services.

For more information about the Stephen B. Gold Dental Clinic, please call (631) 474-6332.

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