I read the newsletter of an antiquated but still popular orthodontic consultant the other day and was struck by something crazy. This consultant was putting fourth the assertion that donating free treatment to kids in need through Smile For A Lifetime or Smiles Change Lives costs the doctor money! REAL MONEY. And he was encouraging clients not to do pro bono orthodontic cases because of that!

I was blown away.

First of all, if you have unused capacity then there is zero cost in donating treatment because you are utilizing the office, equipment, electricity, staff and your time that is already in place on any given work day. Second, both of these programs have partners that give participating doctors free brackets and wires. Third, what the hell is wrong with giving our services to underserved kids in an attempt to make the world a better place? Finally, what kind of person attacks the two most prominent and successful pro bono programs in orthodontics and suggest that doctors refrain from giving away treatment in an attempt to further his point of view and hold onto clients who are beginning to see that the world has changed?

3 thoughts on “Free Cases Cost Money?

  1. I have been secretary for Smile for a lifetime chapters in Arkansas for the last 8 years. This voluntary pursuit has given me a front row seat of the kids and their parents/guardians – the beneficiaries of these free treatments – seeing the amazing transformations has made me a disciple of the charity. When you witness the positive changes that take place in the lives of these kids and their families you cannot but be sold on the cause. When you weigh the net cost against the personal changes and benefits accrued it’s a no brainer. The good publicity for the business is also a factor.

  2. I am surprised that an ortho consultant would go against the idea of giving back to the community????

  3. For the past four years, I have had the privilege of serving as the national executive director for Smile for a Lifetime. I have yet to hear any of our doctors complain about the cost of serving their S4L Scholars. Instead many talk about their participation as an investment of their time, talent and treasures. They see their commitment to the program as a life changing experience for their scholars and for themselves! Our doctors share heart-warming and inspiring stories surrounding their service and are grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in their communities. Of course with any program there may be bumps along the road, but the journey is well worth the effort when their scholars let them know that no one bullies them about their smile any more, that they are looking forward to getting their senior photos taken and that they have enrolled in college because they now believe they can do anything! What a difference a smile can make!

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