A Toronto-area dentist is helping make women who have survived domestic violence smile again.

Dr. Tina Meisami launched Project Restoring Smiles exactly five years ago on International Women’s Day in 2011. Its goal is to provide free dental treatment to survivors of domestic violence.

“The reason I chose to work on victims of domestic violence and domestic abuse was because this is a group of patients…that really needs support and help,” Meisami said.

Four years ago, one of Meisami’s patients, who asked to be identified as Sam, was living in a shelter after having survived domestic abuse.

In addition to the emotional and psychological trauma she had suffered, Sam’s teeth had also been damaged.

“I just didn’t want to open my mouth,” she said. “I was so ashamed of it and I was so sorry.”

That’s when Sam’s case worker introduced her to the dentists at Project Restoring Smiles, who promised to repair her damaged teeth.

“I remember I broke down in tears,” Sam said.

Project Restoring Smiles is an initiative by the Dr. Borna Meisami Commemorative Foundation.

Since 2011, the dentists involved in the project have treated 45 patients, providing more than $200,000 worth of free dental work to victims of abuse.

Sam’s case required two reconstructive services. The procedures were a success.

“(Meisami) has changed my life, saved my life, and I’m forever grateful for this,” Sam said.

At the start of the initiative, there were only five dentists involved. Now, there are 18 dentists involved and Project Restoring Smiles is quickly spreading beyond the GTA to include places such as Ottawa and St. Catharines.

With a report from CTV Toronto’s Janice Golding