ST. LOUIS, Feb. 13, 2013 /PRNewswire -- Efforts are under way to expand the American Association of Orthodontists’ (AAO) Donated Orthodontic Services program. Currently in five states (Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, New Jersey, Rhode Island), the program provides orthodontic care to indigent children without insurance coverage, or who do not qualify for other assistance in their state of residence.
The AAO is a professional organization with more than 17,000 member orthodontists in the United States, Canada and abroad. The Northeastern Society of Orthodontists (NESO), a constituent organization within the AAO, has developed a business model to aid DOS growth nationally. NESO has partnered with two manufacturers whose products are used by orthodontists, their staff members, and their patients.
Performance Healthcare Products, a manufacturer of advanced scrubs (apparel worn by many healthcare professionals) and sleepwear, and Shock Doctor, a manufacturer of mouth guards, have partnered with NESO as the first corporate sponsors of the DOS program. Performance Healthcare Products will donate 10% of sales of Performance Scrubs and 25% of sales of Performance Sleepwear made to NESO members or anyone designating that they want a donation to be made to the DOS program. Shock Doctor made a direct donation of $5,000. It will, in addition, donate 10% of all sales to orthodontists to DOS. Funds are expected to help expand the DOS program to additional states.
"Many people are facing difficulties in providing health and dental services to their children, and that includes orthodontic treatment," said Dr. Jack S. Kacewicz , an orthodontist in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, a volunteer for Rhode Island's DOS program and Chair of the NESO DOS Program. "The goal of the DOS program is to serve children in need, especially those who simply do not qualify for other programs, and provide them with orthodontic care that they might otherwise not receive. Many times, these children's parents have jobs, but their resources are consumed by basics like housing and food. They make too much money to qualify for state-sponsored programs, but not enough to work orthodontic care into the family budget."
Since the inception of the DOS program in 2009, 30 children have completed treatment, and 397 more are currently receiving treatment. The average length of comprehensive orthodontic treatment is 22 months, but ranges up to 36 months for patients with severe orthodontic problems. To date, 380 orthodontic specialists have volunteered their services in the five states served by the DOS program. Prospective DOS patients are required to submit an application for the program and are evaluated by the Dental Lifeline Network to determine eligibility.
Crooked teeth and misaligned jaws can lead to tooth decay and a host of sometimes painful dental disorders. Orthodontic treatment can lead to better dental health and function. A nice benefit of orthodontic treatment is the improvement in appearance. Many patients report increased self-esteem, and that can help enhance life experiences personally and professionally.
"If the NESO business model is successful, we look forward to its adoption by the AAO so that we can deliver orthodontic care to those who need it through an expanded DOS program," Dr. Kacewicz stated.
Orthodontists who volunteer for the DOS program are not compensated for their time or reimbursed for the cost of braces, diagnostic tests or laboratory fees. Families of patients who qualify for the program are asked to pay a nominal fee to cover administrative costs incurred by the Dental Lifeline Network, which coordinates the DOS program on behalf of the AAO.
Residents of Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, New Jersey and Rhode Island who are interested in learning about eligibility for the DOS program, or who wish to submit an application, may contact the DOS coordinator at the Dental Lifeline Network at 866-572-9390.
For-profit entities interested in learning how they may become a DOS corporate sponsor may contact the AAO's executive director, Chris Vranas , at 314-993-1700.
The DOS program accepts AAO members as volunteers. All AAO members are orthodontists. Orthodontists first graduate from dental school and then spend an additional 2-3 years studying orthodontics in an accredited orthodontic residency program. Members of the AAO have met these educational requirements as a condition of membership.