Some orthodontists’ experiences of volunteering for a community orthodontic initiative

Lee A. Smith*, Hannah Jack, Peter Fowler, Joseph Antoun, Keely Blanch, Lyndie Foster Page

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: In society, dental professionals, including orthodontists, are often viewed as being solely motivated by money. Nevertheless, numerous orthodontists volunteer for community initiatives where they provide free or heavily subsidized treatment for underserved populations. This study explores the motivations of a group of New Zealand orthodontists who volunteered for one of these initiatives, Wish For A Smile (WFAS), as well as the high and low points of this work. Methods: Qualitative telephone interviews were conducted with 11 orthodontists who volunteer for WFAS. An inductive data analysis of the data was undertaken and a descriptive qualitative method was chosen. Results: Most participants volunteered for WFAS because they desired to give back to the community. High points of their voluntary work were seeing patients’ self-esteem, happiness, and future life chances increase as a result of treatment. Low points included seeing the challenging life circumstances of some WFAS patients and treating some adolescents who appeared not to qualify. A number of participants said WFAS patients were more grateful and cooperative than fee-paying patients, whereas others reported the opposite. Conclusions: There are many reasons why orthodontists volunteer for orthodontic community initiatives, although many may be motivated by a sense of social responsibility to give back to the community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)552-559
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
Issue number4
Early online date30 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


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