The best thing about being a dentist is helping people. Having a healthy smile is so much more than having perfectly straight and white teeth. Dental health impacts overall health and also impacts mental health and self-esteem. For most people who live in Southwest Nebraska and the rest of the United States, dental care is available and accessible. That is not the case, however, in many parts of the world. Luckily there are organizations and volunteers who work hard to make dental care available to those who wouldn’t otherwise have access. Thousands of dentists volunteer their time and services and we thought it would be fun to highlight some of the organizations making smiles brighter around the world.
KIDS (Kids International Dental Services) is a non-profit that started in 2009 when retired prosthodontist, Dr. Robert Renner, decided to make the volunteer opportunities he’d enjoyed abroad available to more dentists. Teams of volunteer dentists now travel all over the world and treat thousands of children per day with preventive and corrective services. Most of these children would never have access to dental services.
Smile Train is an organization that performs completely free surgeries to correct cleft lip and palate. This relatively common difference in the formation of the lip and palate can prevent children from eating, drinking, hearing, and breathing properly. Smile Train also provides instruction to local dentists and doctors so that they are able to perform surgeries in their communities. Smile Train also provides pre and post operative care including speech therapy for adults and children.
Mercy Ships provides free health and dental care in port cities all over the world. Ports are visited by a ship full of doctors and dentists on a ship equipped as a hospital and ready to perform all sorts of life changing procedures.
America’s Tooth Fairy strives to make quality dental care available to all children in the United States. They provide free and discounted clinics, mobile dental care for areas in which access to dental care is limited, oral health supplies for people to use at home, and educational programs for schools. Charitable Smiles is another group serving people in need in the United States. They match patients in need of dental care with dentists who donate time in their own offices. Children and adults can apply to be matched with a dentist.
What are your favorite non-profits to support?