Orthodontists in Atlantic Canada are trying to make it easier for children with dental problems to smile. They've started a program called Smiles 4 Canada that covers most of the cost of orthodontic treatment for low income children.
Orthodontics is a speciality within dentistry that focuses on correcting crooked teeth and jaws.
"Society puts a high value on a smile a smile is a very powerful thing," said Stephen Roth, an orthodontist and national director of Smiles 4 Canada.
Unfortunately many children have dental problems that make them self conscious and keep them from smiling, according to the Smiles 4 Canada website.
Many of those problems could be fixed with proper orthodontic treatment, but not every family can afford it.
The Smiles 4 Canada program was created to help those children.
"It's really incredible and it's really rewarding for us to watch as orthodontists when we see someone's smile improve and we see their whole self confidence is improving, their whole attitude is improving," Roth told Information Morning.
The program is not entirely free. Participants have to pay an administration fee, which is generally five to 10 per cent of the total cost of the treatment.
How it works
Families with children under the age of 14 can apply for treatment online. That application requires a personal letter from the child, a personal reference, financial information from the family and information submitted by the child's dentist, said Roth.
If the child meets the program's criteria they're matched to the orthodontist closest to them that's taking part in the program.
"We're looking you know in the neighbourhood of somewhere between 25 and 50 patients a year starting treatment, that would be really exciting and that would really help a lot of people."
Smiles 4 Canada has sent letters about the program to school boards, the Nova Scotia Health authority and the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia.
Roth said it isn't just the patients that feel better after getting treatment.
"To see those kind of life changing, changes in someone especially if they're receiving the treatment as part of a pro bono program, it's very rewarding for the orthodontist and the whole orthodontic team."