Initiative lets teens smile with confidence

By Kristin Edge


Two lucky Northland teens will have the chance to get free braces but the catch is they'll have to volunteer in their community in exchange for a beautiful straight smile.

People aged between 11 and 18 who cannot afford orthodontic treatment can apply to the Wish for a Smile Trust to fix severe orthodontic problems which would costs thousands of dollars.

In the next few months about 45 young people will start treatment nationwide, thanks to more than 40 orthodontists, in exchange for voluntary work.

Northlanders are being encouraged to make an application.

Dr Wayne Dalley and Dr Rachel Moore, of Northland Orthodontics, based in Whangarei, said they believed braces could change lives forever and can make a huge difference to a child through increased self-esteem and an optimistic future outlook.

"It's not a free ride, they have to give back to their community. It may be through work at an old people's home or in a pensioner's garden," Mr Dalley said.

"The whole idea is they value the treatment and acknowledge the community who is giving them this benefit."

Mr Dalley said the initiative recognised the fact there were children who needed orthodontic treatment but were unable to receive it.

A pilot programme ran in Auckland for 12 months and was a success and just this month had been opened to orthodontists across the country.

Dr Moore said orthodontists had always done some pro bono work or gave their time to provide hospital services and this initiative was a way of formalising that work and putting it on a community basis.

She said the benefits of a straight smile were amazing.

"A poor smile can really impact on a child. Just to see their confidence grow and watch them bloom makes it all worthwhile. It sets them up on the right path for the rest of their lives," she said.

Application are made through the website and are considered by a committee. The local orthodontists have no say in who is selected and begin treatment once the two teens have been chosen. Dr Moore encouraged teachers and others in the community to nominate some one they know.

The Wish for a Smile Trust is a public health initiative of the New Zealand Association of Orthodontists. The trust aims to make specialist orthodontic treatment available to young New Zealanders who would otherwise be unable to access orthodontic care. People or service groups can make donations to the trust.

For more information and an application form check out www.orthodontists.org.nz

- Northern Advocate

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