Miss Mississippi Candidate, Vicksburg native Charity Lockridge encourages others to SMILE

Published 11:06 am Friday, June 24, 2022

Miss Leaf River Valley Charity Lockridge, a Vicksburg native and candidate in the Miss Mississippi Competition, works as a dental assistant and said she loves spreading the knowledge of the long-term effects dental hygiene has on the body.

This year marks Lockridge’s fourth time competing in Miss Mississippi. Her social impact initiative is Project SMILE, something she said was borne both out of her chosen profession and a lifelong understanding of the importance of proper oral care.

As a dental assistant at Nash Family Dentistry in Vicksburg, Lockridge said she works actively with patients by building relationships with them and making them more comfortable in their future return visits.

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Lockridge said her passion for dentistry started early in childhood when her father made sure she always brushed her teeth. She said that she did not know as a little girl how important her teeth were, but growing older, she has learned that good dental hygiene leads to great health. 

One incident from two years ago that stood out as a pivotal moment, Lockridge said, was when she encountered a patient who was only 16 and was experiencing severe oral health issues. It’s something that made her want to fight harder to spread awareness of dental care. 

“I had an encounter with a patient that arrived in our office in severe pain,” Lockridge said. “After reviewing this patient’s charts, medical history, and examining her mouth, we found several infections and she was diagnosed with periodontal disease. Periodontal disease put the patient at high risk for cardiovascular disease, the number one cause of death in Mississippi.” 

Lockridge’s passion led her to start Project SMILE. She said that Project SMILE is her mission to equip Mississippi’s youth with the fundamental skills needed to maintain good oral hygiene. With a sponsorship from dental hygiene brand Crest, Lockridge has donated almost 5,000 hygiene care packages to children within and around Vicksburg.  

“Take care of your teeth. Those are the one thing in your body that doesn’t rejuvenate. So you have to take proper care of them.” Lockridge said. “I always try to teach my patients to make sure that they take preventative care very seriously so that they won’t have to take restorative measures.” 

Lockridge said she wants everyone to remember one simple thing: “Without a smile, you’re never truly clothed.”