Dr. Lawless volunteers as a Smiles Change Lives provider. It is estimated that 20% of all American children are living with moderate to severe malocclusions (crooked teeth and misaligned jaws). Many come from working families living in poverty. Without assistance, these children will not receive the treatment they need. Smiles Change Lives (SCL) serves kids who suffer from the social, emotional, and physical repercussions of dental deformities such as missing, broken and impacted teeth. Many have difficulty speaking and chewing. Others suffer with constant pain or are targets of peer teasing or bullying. Interested families can learn more and start the application process at www.smileschangelives.org/apply.
The Virginia Brown Community Orthodontic Partnership was established in 1997 as a community-based orthodontic program to help children from low-income families, whose self-esteem was impacted by having crooked teeth, receive orthodontic treatment. Now known as Smiles Change Lives, it has grown into an international organization with close to 750 orthodontists participating in the program. To date, over 6,000 children have received life-changing orthodontic treatment through SCL.
Smiles Change Lives has a unique model that matches children from low-income families, who need orthodontic treatment, with caring orthodontists willing to provide such treatment. Each family must agree to abide by the program’s rules and contribute a set amount to SCL to be approved for the program. SCL uses these funds to recruit more doctors willing to treat more children. In this way, each family truly “pays it forward”; by helping their own child, they are making it possible for the next child to be treated as well. Since its inception, more than 99% of the children approved for SCL have successfully completed treatment.
How the Program Works
SCL is looking for youth who meet the following criteria:
- Are between the ages of ten and 18
- Have no more than four baby teeth and no unfilled cavities
- Have good dental hygiene
- Are not currently wearing braces
- Meet the SCL financial guidelines
- Are willing to follow the SCL program rules and make the required financial contribution