Volunteering for straight teeth

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The bite of $6000 orthodontic work could be decreased to just three figures in exchange for volunteer work for local families unable to directly afford the treament.

The New Zealand Association of Orthodontists last week announced that the Wish for a Smile Trust will take applications from children aged between 11 and 18 years old, helping ease the financial burden of those in need of urgent orthodontic work.

Sonia Malpas of Nelson Orthodontics, the only clinic in the Top of the South participating in the initiative, says this will be hugely beneficial for children that might be teased at school.

“The ones whose life might be really affected and could lead to other problems, the real serious cases, they’re the ones who will benefit,” she says.

Sonia says orthodontic treatment has become significantly more popular in recent years because dentists in this era do “everything they can” to save a tooth.

In previous generations, teeth were taken out and replaced with false teeth.

It is estimated that 20 per cent of New Zealand children require some form of orthodontic work.

Dr Andrew Lush says it is likely to cost families around $800 on top of the 20 hours volunteer work with a community organisation. That money would be paid over 40 weeks and would cover a fraction of the overheads. He says in the past some patients may have been charged less if they were more deserving but this initiative involved a more formal process.

The number of successful applicants will depend on how many patients each orthodontist was willing to take on but Andrew expected the figure to be around two each year per orthodontist.

“We’re not making money and we’re not breaking even but we’re happy to give our time for a few deserving cases,” he says.

“This is a win-win for the patient and the community.”

To apply for the scheme just visit http://www.orthodontists.org.nz/wishforasmile/