ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4) – Two orthodontists in Southern Utah are encouraging their community to Smile Forward. Their belief is that when a smile is combined with a desire to improve and become better, those changes can “improve ourselves, our neighbors, our communities, and the world.”

The doctors at Burke & Beckstrom Orthodontics have taken smiles to the next level. They are reaching beyond their patients and reaching out to their community. They have Kindness Card Programs in schools and encourage community members to nominate those doing good in a Pay It Forward campaign.

Dr. Brandon Burke says he knew he wanted his practice to go beyond straightening teeth.

“I wanted my reach to extend beyond my practice and my patients and make a difference in our entire community. I centered my philosophy of Smile Forward on the idea that we can all make a difference in people’s lives by trying to put our best smile forward, regardless of our circumstances,” Burke said. “This means that no matter what life throws at us we can try to be a light in the life of others. We can keep moving forward. Keep striving to become our best selves.”

The practice asks, “How do you smile forward?” Through a video campaign on their website, they encourage patients and community members alike to upload videos of how they smile forward and what being positive means in their lives. The videos share messages of confidence through acts of kindness and encourage everyone to reach out with a smile to their community each day. Burke & Beckstrom then share the videos on social media platforms to share small uplifting messages to their followers.

“The Smile Forward campaign is about appearing and acting in a way that makes the most positive impression,” Dr. Brian Beckstrom relates. “Smiling is the best way to make a positive first impression. More importantly, it’s your positive actions in life that keep you moving forward and help you become the best version of yourself.”

The doctors also have put their Pay It Forward messages into local schools as well. Working with teachers the practice has created Smile Forward Cards that contain hints and tips for acts of kindness. Teachers can also enter a classroom competition where their students perform acts of kindness for a month and then can compete for $150 in prizes for their students.

The Pay It Forward campaign is just a community-wide extension of the Smile Forward philosophy Dr. Burke explained. It is an opportunity to give back to others who are making a difference in the area they serve.

“Whether or not you’re a patient of ours we want to make our community a better place to live and we want to recognize and honor those who are trying to do good,” said Burke. “No matter how big or small their efforts are.”

Community members nominate people doing acts of kindness and the practice has a quarterly celebration to honor them. They have recognized a family that has made it their mission to foster and adopt children, a family man who is known for always being there to help and encourage, and a local Walmart employee who stepped up when a customer had forgotten her wallet, not just helping pay for a purchase but then becoming a lifelong friend.

The doctors both agree that giving back to the community makes their lives better and helps them understand the community where they serve. Dr. Burke says these campaigns have opened his eyes to more than just being an orthodontist but being his best self and he wants others to feel the same way.

“Our philosophy of Smile Forward forces me to look at my patients as people not just teeth. People with hopes, fears, dreams, pains, suffering, and amazing potential. Straightening teeth and creating beautiful smiles is fun, but changing lives and helping others feel loved and see their own potential for good is what makes my job and my life so rewarding and fulfilling,” he said. “Pay It Forward reminds me that although pop culture and current media may inundate us with the negative that we are exposed to by this human experience, we are surrounded by beautiful good people who are just doing their best to make this a better, more positive world in which to live.”