Fresh Orthodontics and Dr. Ankush Khanna are extremely proud to participate in the Smiles Change Lives program. Having treated thousands of children and teens in the New York area, Dr. Khanna has seen first-hand how the transformative power of braces and a beautiful smile can have a positive impact on a child’s life for years to come. Unfortunately, too many kids right here in Brooklyn come from families who cannot afford the orthodontic treatment they need. When we saw this need in our local community, we decided to do something about it. By partnering with Smiles Change Lives, we hope to have a positive impact on access to care for families in our community.
What is Smiles Change Lives?
In 1997, Mrs. Virginia Brown started Smiles Change Lives (SCL) in Kansas City. Since then, it’s evolved into a nationwide non-profit organization that helps children who come from families that cannot afford the full cost of braces. The program has treated more than 7,000 children since it’s inception and has emerged as the nation’s leader in providing affordable access to orthodontic treatment to qualified youth.
SCL believes in promoting increased self-esteem and improved oral health for children in need of orthodontic treatment. Their goal is to find qualified orthodontic providers, like Dr. Khanna, who are willing to donate their services to deserving patients and connect them with families whose children can benefit from treatment.
How does Smiles Change Lives work?
SCL is unique in that it matches low-income families that may have fallen on hard times with orthodontists who are willing to donate their services. While the treatment is not 100% free, SCL’s nominal fee is used to find and recruit more orthodontists eager to offer their services across the U.S. and Canada. By helping their own child, these families are in a way helping other families who have children in need receive orthodontic treatment. Families that are accepted into the program must first meet some specific conditions and also agree to abide by the program’s rules and requirements.
Dr. Khanna’s Story with SCL
The positive effect that orthodontic care can have on a developing child’s personality has always captivated Dr. Khanna and though he initially dreamed of being a rock star as a kid, it was this, along with a lack of musical talent, that inspired him to pursue a career as an orthodontist. In fact, he was an entirely different person before and after he had his own “Bugs Bunny” teeth straightened.
Philanthropy in any form and size was a value that Dr. Khanna’s parents instilled in him at a young age, mostly from working with impoverished communities on their family trips to India. In addition, at various times throughout Dr. Khanna’s life, doors were opened for him with only the expectation that he return the favor to someone in the future. For these reasons, it seemed only natural when planning his vision for Fresh Orthodontics that philanthropy be one of the core ideals of the practice. Enter Smiles Change Lives. Not only does the organization truly capture Dr. Khanna’s motivation in its name, it allows him to spread his effort of helping others further into the community.
While a fantastic smile is the physical result, our hope as a practice is to positively influence these children during important developmental years. Maybe one day they’ll think about their experience with Fresh Orthodontics and SCL and give someone else a helping hand later in life.
How to Apply for SCL
Children that are applying for the Smiles Change Lives program must meet the following qualifications and be motivated to follow Dr. Khanna’s orthodontic treatment plan (no slacking, kiddos!). Depending on the severity of the orthodontic issues, treatment may last up to 36 months.
- Must be 10-18 years of age
- Have no more than four baby teeth
- Have good dental hygiene (as certified by the applicant’s general dentist)
- Have no unfilled cavities
- Cannot be wearing braces currently
- Be willing to pay the non-refundable $30 application fee and the $600 required $600 financial investment per child
- Family must meet the SCL financial guidelines.
To find out more about program requirements and to apply, visit the official Smiles Change Lives website.