Teen gets new smile thanks to generous adults

SAN JOSE, Calif.

Unlike some patients, 14-year-old Sasha Kunyanskyy is actually excited about going to the dentist.

"I woke up really early today; I woke up around five-ish and stayed up since," he said.

The eighth grader at Mooreland Middle School in San Jose is anxious to get his braces off -- almost as anxious as he was to get them on.

"I had this thing in my life where people would make fun of me because of my teeth and how I looked," Sasha

The Ukranian family has no insurance so Dr. Randy Ligh and Dr. Joseph Rideau teamed up to provide Sasha's dental care for free. His overbite was so pronounced it was hard for him to even close his lips together and two molars needed to be removed.

"We had an oral surgeon extract those for us and then we closed up the spaces and got his bite to fit together a lot better and made it so he could smile and enjoy his life," Rideau said.

All of the work -- 20 brackets on Sasha's teeth and more than two years of treatment -- comes at a time when Sasha's mother is battling brain cancer. The family is finding comfort in the compassion of others.

"I knew there were good people in the world but I didn't know they lived so close to me," Sasha's sister Daria Kunyanska said.

This story is all about recognizing the generosity of people who rallied to help Sasha and one person we can't overlook is the school principal who took the first step.

Karen Allard attended the milestone occasion for good reason -- she's the one who brought Sasha's case to the dental practice and opened the door for his treatment to begin.

"I'll never forget Sasha going to school and running down the campus and saying I can't believe this is going to happen to me really going to happen and those are the experiences and memories I think I'll even remember forever," Allard said.

Now with the braces off, the smile and the thank you's come from the heart.

"It's such a big present I don't know even have words to explain it," Sasha said.

What is easy to explain is how this gift has given Sasha new confidence. Allard says he's on the honor role at Mooreland Middle School and when he graduates in June his future looks as beautiful as his smile.

Copyright © 2023 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.