Summary: The AAO Foundation’s Donated Orthodontic Services program, now renamed Gifted Smiles, provides pro bono orthodontic treatment to children from financially needy families. The program, managed by the AAOF, relies on volunteer AAO members and aims to expand its volunteer pool to meet growing demand.

Key Takeaways:

  • Volunteer Expansion: The AAOF seeks to increase its volunteer pool to provide more children with access to orthodontic treatment.
  • Program Renaming: The program’s new name, Gifted Smiles, reflects the belief that a healthy smile is a lifelong gift.

The AAO Foundation’s (AAOF) Donated Orthodontic Services, a program designed to expand access to treatment, has been renamed as Gifted Smiles.

Since its inception in 2009, Donated Orthodontic Services has provided orthodontic treatment for children from families with financial need. The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) recognized the program with a Power of Associations Silver Award in 2022.

Volunteer Contributions and Expansion

AAO member volunteers provide treatment for eligible patients on a pro bono basis. With many approved applicants waiting for treatment, the AAOF seeks to expand the Gifted Smiles volunteer pool.

“The new name that we selected, Gifted Smiles, in part reflects our belief that a healthy, beautiful smile is a gift for life,” said Lili Horton, DMD, AAOF president. “We currently have 300 AAO member volunteers who are providing this gift for patients who have qualified to receive treatment. Our volunteers find it is a wonderful opportunity to give back to your community – and in return, experience the joy and appreciation of a young patient who may not have expected to be able to have orthodontic treatment.”

Gifted Smiles Eligibility and Application Process

Children 18 years of age or younger, with good oral hygiene, are eligible to apply for treatment via Gifted Smiles. They must not be currently undergoing or in between phases of orthodontic treatment.

Program Management and Volunteer Support

Gifted Smiles is managed by a dedicated team member of the AAO Foundation and provides all front-end assessments of financial eligibility and readiness to comply with treatment requirements. Volunteers treating Gifted Smiles patients focus on treatment only, with no minimum requirement for cases accepted.

“Our Gifted Smiles manager, Tabitha Smith and I are working to ensure that the volunteer process is easy and seamless for all AAO members who work with this program,” said Brett Schott, AAOF vice president. “Our goal is always to take the guesswork out of providing charity treatment, for the doctor and his or her team.”

Join the Network

To learn more and join the network of caring practitioners nationwide, visit the Gifted Smiles volunteer page.