Thank you for the excellent editorial in the May issue (Kokich VG. It’s our duty! Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 2011;139:573). You wrote things that are just so important to us in our privileged positions as orthodontists—which goes along with that important duty to give back to our communities.
It certainly was of great interest to me because in 2005 the Australian Society of Orthodontists (ASO) launched “Give a Smile,” a philanthropic pro bono program designed so that children from needy families are allocated to participating orthodontists, who treat these patients in their private offices for no fee. It works right across Australia, thanks to the extraordinary support from most ASO members. An amazing 62% of all full members of the ASO have pledged their support and receive 1 patient per year from the various public dental health waiting lists across the country. This level of support is unparalleled.
We are very proud of this endeavor. It not only contributes to reducing the long public care waiting lists, but it also provides a ready avenue for orthodontists to give back to the community in the most valuable way—giving their special skills and services to those who would otherwise not have access to private orthodontic care, and especially to people who can probably most benefit from the gift of a lovely smile.
This year we are celebrating our 1000th “Give a Smile” patient. And that’s not bad for an ASO membership of around 400!