Colorado Dentist Gives Back and Gains Big Rewards

By Jill Hammergren

July 5, 2018

A Colorado Springs dentist, whose career was launched when she received extensive dental care after moving to the US from Vietnam when she was a teen, is giving back at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. Ngocbich "Bic" Florentino, DDS is volunteering as part of the Healthy Smiles screenings, one of the free screenings provided by Special Olympics Healthy Athletes. This week, she's been offering free dental services to athletes from across the nation. Her journey to become a dentist started when she and her mother arrived in the US when Florentino was 14-years-old.

"I had a lot of problems with my teeth and we went to Peak Vista Community Health Centers in Colorado Springs where the dentist helped me and my family out so much," said Florentino. "After a couple of years, I told the dentist that I wanted to become a dentist, too so I could help other people have healthy teeth."

Her dentist/mentor guided her in figuring out what classes to take, which books to study, and gave her pointers on the tests she'd need to take. Florentino then got her degree from Colorado University at Denver. She now works at the same clinic where her family first received their dental care.

During the USA Games, Florentino fits athletes with mouth guards and provides other dental services. "I love the experience," Florentino said, "For me it is very rewarding, I can give back to others. It means so much to give the athletes the same kind of dental care me and my family received."

Florentino is taking her experience with Special Olympics athletes back to the Colorado Springs clinic, so that more people with ID and special needs have access to dental care. She is also working with Dr. Steve Perlman, Founder of Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program, to volunteer her time in Abu Dhabi for the World Games next year.