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Smiles Change Lives


Updated March 14, 2012

Smiles Change Lives
Photo Courtesy of Smiles Change Lives

Smiles Change Lives - More Than Just a Pretty Smile:

Braces are often thought to be a purely cosmetic procedure; available only to those who can afford it, or for people fortunate enough to have a dental plan that covers the cost of braces. Considering the average cost of orthodontic treatment often peaks at $10,000, it's no wonder programs like Smiles Change Lives exist.
Braces and orthodontic treatment, for many children, provide improved self-esteem, improved speech and pronunciation, the ability to eat and drink comfortably, and healthier teeth and jaws; only to name a few. Braces really do provide more than just a pretty smile, and should be available to everyone.

Mission Statement:

Their mission is simple, as described on their website:

"Smiles Change Lives promotes and provides access to life-changing, essential orthodontic treatment for children from low-income families. Based in Kansas City, the program has treated more than 1,200 children since 1997. With its origin as the Virginia Brown Community Orthodontic Partnership, Smiles Change Lives has emerged as the nation’s leader in providing access to orthodontic care for underserved youth."

Dedicated Volunteers:

Smiles Change Lives is a non-profit organization, that partners with orthodontists to provide orthodontic treatment for low-income youth.

The volunteer board of directors of SCL include:

    Mr. Scott Badesch, Autism Society of North Carolina
    Mr. Perry Brown, Northern Trust, N.A.
    Mr. Tom Brown, President, The Brown Law Firm, L.L.C.
    Mrs. Virginia Brown, Founder, Community Volunteer
    Dr. Kim Jones-Rudolph, Vice-President, Orthodontist
    Dr. Jess Kane, Orthodontist
    Dr. Bob Mac Lean, Orthodontist
    Ms. Susan Oswalt, Your Marketing Architect
    Mr. Reuben Paulsen, Treasurer, Energy Financial Services
    Dr. Kelly Toombs, Orthodontist

Growing With Confidence:

Smiles Change Lives currently services 16 States, with the goal to expand to additional states and regions in 2010. As Smiles Change Lives grows, the need for qualified applicants and dedicated volunteers coincidentally grows, too. General dentists, dental specialists, and members of the community are encouraged to reach out to the youth they feel would benefit from the Smiles Change Lives program and in turn, encourage or assist them to apply for the program.

How The Program Works:

The focus of SCL is to assists youth from low-income families obtain braces, at a lower cost. In order to qualify for the program, applicants must meet specific requirements, some of which include:

  • Applicants are between ages of 11 and 18
  • Applicants must reside in an area where the program exists
  • Applicants must have good oral hygiene, and agree to follow the rules of the program.
  • The families annual household taxable income must be at or below 200 of the Federal Poverty Guideline
  • Willing to pay $500.00 towards the cost of treatment
Additional requirements, and information on exceptions may be found on their website.

Halloween - An Ideal Time for Smiles Change Lives:

Halloween candy is hard enough on the average tooth, imagine the damage it can, and will do to teeth that are adorned with brackets, bands, and archwires. Smiles Change Lives recognized that Halloween is an ideal time, to educate the youth on the possible affects candy can have on their teeth, and at the same time, open a door to a fantastic fundraising opportunity.

Held on November 1st, in participating areas, SCL sponsors host a candy exchange, where youth can forgo their Halloween candy for a healthier treat. Receiving a Halloween candy alternative is an exciting moment for the children, but perhaps the most interesting part of the candy exchange is the candy weigh station. This area is the golden ticket, necessary for the candy exchange to be success. At the end of the day, the mountain of candy is weighed, and a total is recorded. SCL will receive a cash donation equivalent to the weight of the candy. Each sponsor sets the monetary donation level, at their discretion

The children and volunteers often stand in awe, amazed by the amount of Halloween candy that is collected. So, what happens to all of that sugary goodness? Candy collected from the event is generally dispersed in a variety of ways. Most candy exchange sponsors donate their candy to local homeless shelters, or arrange to have the plethora of candy shipped to our troupes overseas.

How Can I Help?:

If you know someone that would benefit from the Smiles Change Lives program, find out if they qualify for the program, and get the application process going.

If you are an orthodontist or oral health professional, and you would like to learn how you can assist Smiles Change Lives, visit their website to find out how you can help.

If you would simply like information on how you can help Smiles Change Lives, here's how you can volunteer.


Andrea Umbreit, Director of Marketing and Communications for Smiles Change Lives.

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