Give a Smile (Australia) vs Donated Orthodontic Services (USA)
Since 2005, Australia’s charitable Give a Smile® program has been providing children from lower-income families with access to professional orthodontic treatment that would otherwise be out of reach.
Give a Smile® was established by Dr. Ted Crawford to give orthodontists an opportunity to give back to local communities. The program garnered widespread support from specialist orthodontists across the country and today operates in every state and territory. Under the umbrella of the national charity, approximately 70 percent of eligible orthodontists donate their time, expertise, and resources to provide treatment to one Give a Smile® patient each year.
While Australia’s Give a Smile® program has similarities to the USA’s Donated Orthodontic Services initiative, there are a number of key differences in eligibility criteria, application process, and timing. We explore these areas below.
Give a Smile (Australia)
For a child to be eligible to receive orthodontic treatment under the Give a Smile® program, they must meet two criteria:
- Their parent or guardian needs to be a health care card holder or pension card holder.
- The child must already be on the waiting list for orthodontic treatment in the public dental service of the state or territory in which they live.
There is no application process as such. Patients are selected and allocated to Give a Smile® from the public orthodontic waiting list. Give a Smile® doesn’t select patients – it simply receives patients and allocates them to appropriate specialist orthodontists who have volunteered to treat patients through the Give a Smile® program.
The effect of the Give a Smile® program is to reduce the amount of time patients spend on the waiting list of the public orthodontic service. As a result, the exact timing of the program will vary in each state and territory.
Donated Orthodontic Services (USA)
Donated Orthodontic Services (DOS) has been operating since 2009. Similar to Australia’s Give a Smile program, members of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) volunteer their time and expertise to provide professional orthodontic treatment to children of underprivileged families. Nearly 1000 patients across the US have received since the founding of DOS 12 years ago.
Compared to the Give a Smile® program, however, the DOS has a more complex set of eligibility requirements and a lengthier application process and treatment timeline.
The Australian Give a Smile® and American Donated Orthodontic Services programs achieve the same important outcome – changing the lives of young patients for the better by giving them a confident and healthy smile for life.
While improved dental health is a key benefit for these patients, the boost in self-esteem and the emotional benefits that these children experience following treatment can be truly immeasurable.