GENERAL DENTISTRY FOR YOUTH
To commit to excellence in the service of others while dedicating ourselves to the positive transformation of lives through dentistry.
A CHILD'S SMILE SAYS IT ALL!
Smile Starters provides general dental services to thousands of underserved children and young adults throughout North Carolina. Good dental health is an important ingredient of overall health. Preventative care is the focus of Smile Starters and with regular dental check-ups, we can diagnose dental problems early.
We want our young patients to enjoy smiles that last a lifetime and our entire staff works toward that goal. We always accept new patients and appointment times are available to fit your busy schedule. Smile Starters accepts most insurances. We even offer a pay online option for our children’s dental cleanings and services.
They are so great. Courteous, understanding and knowledgeable.
I have had nothing but the best experiences here since I began with my sons, the eldest who’s now 18! So grateful!
Smile Starters — Asheville
Rafael Rivera Jr., DDS
A self-described military brat who calls North Carolina home, Dr. Rafael Rivera, Jr (known to all as Dr. Raf). graduated from Westover Senior High in Fayetteville, NC. He then went on to study at UNC-Chapel Hill, earning a BA in Chemistry before completing his Doctorate of Dental Surgery. Following graduation from the UNC School of Dentistry, Dr. Rivera served in the United States Navy where he completed an Advanced Education in General Dentistry while also gaining a healthy appreciation for Public Health Dentistry. Interestingly, it was an overseas tour in Japan which solidified Dr. Raf's passion for treating children. Since 2002 he has dedicated his professional career to children and young adults. In 2008 Dr. Rivera purchased Smile Starters and immediately set to work fulfilling his aspirations to improve access to quality dental care for the underserved. He has served on several focus groups and committees in the furtherance of access to quality dental care for North Carolina's children. Dr. Rivera believes in accountability, ethical stewardship and doing things the right way, the first time.
Dr. Rivera is a member of:
American Dental Association
North Carolina Dental Society
Gaston County Dental Society (President 2009-2010)
UNC Dental Alumni Association (President 2018-2019)
Tomorrow Smiles (2012-2013)
UNC Board of Visitors (2021-Present)
UNC Global Health Advisory Board (2021-Present)
NC Institute of Medicine Task Force on Children's Preventative Oral Health Service (2013)
NC Health Connex (NCHIE) Work Group (2017-Present)
Dr. Rivera believes in giving back to the community. Over the years Smile Starters has partnered with organizations such as local Head Start Centers and the Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures® program. In addition to personally participating in several of the North Carolina Dental Society-sponsored Missions of Mercy Clinics, Dr. Rivera has opened the Smile Starters doors to provide free dental service days.
With his free time, Dr. Raf enjoys spending time with his family and traveling. Dr. Raf's personal interests are varied. He can most often be found turning wood into sawdust or metal into sparks assuming he is not otherwise preoccupied on a tractor.
"I'm very fortunate to be surrounded by a fantastic team of dental professionals, auxiliaries and administrative staff." Dr. Raf says, "We have the tools to provide the highest levels of quality dental care, but we would be nothing without our patients. THANK YOU! to each patient and family for providing us the opportunity to share in your dental health."