Volunteering earns teeth-straightening

Winifred Harding
Winifred Harding
Providing young people with orthodontic treatment in exchange for volunteer work is a "superb" idea, says a Dunedin orthodontist who has agreed to provide services for the initiative.

Launched last week by the New Zealand Association of Orthodontists, the Wish for a Smile Trust will take applications from children aged from 11 to 18.

The initiative is aimed at children from families which cannot afford to pay; a modest weekly contribution was expected from them, however.

The young people would be expected to undertake 20 hours of community work.

Dr Winifred Harding, of Dunedin, said no public funding was available for orthodontic treatment and most members of the profession had provided free or low-cost treatment at their discretion.

She liked the fact the young person receiving treatment would contribute to the community as part of the programme. This would help them appreciate the value of what they were receiving in return.

Dr Harding said while orthodontic problems were not a matter of "life and death", orthodontic treatment could greatly affect a child's self-esteem.

Dr Harding expected it would be six months or so before she treated a patient under the scheme, partly because it was near the end of the year.

Application forms are available at www.orthodontists.org.nz

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