Changing smiles, changing lives

“Smile!”

Flashing your pearly whites is expected in almost every arena of life, from social occasions to job interviews, family get-togethers to speaking engagements but not everyone is comfortable with smiling when they’re called upon.

Initiatives like the Australian Dental Health Foundation’s Rebuilding Smiles program, for survivors of domestic abuse, affirm how important the confidence to flash a smile is to a person’s sense of self.

Recognising this, one network of Queensland practices, DentalCareXtra set out to earlier this year to find people in their local communities who friends and family felt were most deserving of receiving a “Smile Makeover”.

Based on a Jamaican initiative by Dr. Anissa Holmes, Project Smile, as it is known, attracted over 90 nominations from across the community, a sizable number which was eventually whittled down to seven finalists from whom the public were encouraged to select winners (one each for the three practices involved).

Each of the seven finalists was filmed, giving them an opportunity to tell their compelling story, with the moving vox pops attracting a cumulative total of 84,000 views, indicating the universality of these stories and how readily people identify with the need to have a perfect smile.

What was highlighted by these stories was the impact that poor teeth work has on not only a person’s social acceptability but their ability to eat and speak, two fundamental elements of human interaction the impairment of which can manifestly complicate and lessen a person’s quality of life.

Another aim of the initiative was to help people overcome their fear of dentists and to embrace good oral health regimes that play such a fundamental role in a person’s overall health and sense of emotional wellbeing.

In the end Project Smiles, which ultimately awarded all seven finalists the opportunity for a “Smile Makeover”, played a key role not only in changing lives, but by altering the public’s perception of dentists, showed what a vital role dentistry plays in peoples’ lives.

/ADA Public Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.