For years, Arcadia resident Margaret Levine was afraid to smile.
These days, however, Margaret— who works at as an assistant trainer for Jeff Metz — is walking around smiling a lot.
She’s not only happier than she has been in a long time, she also has a smile worth showing off.
For most of her adult life, Margaret was afraid to go to a dentist. When she and her husband, Peter (who also trains horses) were living in New York, Margaret had a bad experience going to a dentist.
“I had a tooth pulled and infection set in,” she said. “Then I had a reaction to the antibiotic. Oh, it was just awful.”
Margaret was 25 at the time, and vowed she would never go back to a dentist. But when she turned 50 last October, she realized she had to do something about her teeth, even though she feared she could never afford all the work she needed.
“I wouldn’t smile because I didn’t want anyone to see my teeth,” she said. “They were in terrible shape. I was so embarrassed.”
That has all changed, thanks to the California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation, which helps licensed backstretch workers and their families throughout the state obtain medical, dental and vision care, and also provides social services.
Scared to death, she went to the CTHF’s Noble Threewitt Medical Clinic on the grounds of Santa Anita Park and explained her problem. She needed a lot of dental work, but was deathly afraid to sit in a dental chair.
Dr. Linda Roselle, CTHF’s highly popular dentist, explained to Margaret that she and her staff would help her get through it all.
On Nov. 1, the work began. It was concluded in late March. During the many visits to the clinic, dental assistant Yanira Posada stood by and held Margaret’s hand.
In all, Margaret had six root canals, six crowns, five fillings and partial dental plates, upper and lower. Her total bill was $1,846, with CTHF’s clinic copays and negotiated rates with outside providers.
If she had gone to a dentist without CTHF’s assistance and without dental insurance, she would have ended up owing around $20,000.
“I can’t say enough about the clinic and the people there,” Margaret said. “They’re wonderful. It is really hard for me to put it into words.
“Doing this was the best decision I ever made. It changed my whole outlook on life. Before, I was afraid to smile. Now look at me,” she said, a big smile on her face.
The CTHF has helped so many people like Margaret Levine. Now the foundation, a nonprofit charity, is seeking help from others.
For years the CTHF has heavily relied on money from unclaimed wagering tickets, but that money has been on the decline. So, donations from individuals, racetracks and partnerships with other foundations have become extremely important, says CTHF executive director Kevin Bolling.
"They provide additional funds and resources that allow the CTHF to fulfill its mission of bettering the quality of life for backstretch workers and their dependents," Bolling said.
For further information, go to www.cthf.info.