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Everyone Deserves a Smile

Everyone Deserves a Smile

What is a smile? A smile is many things. Anatomically, it is a facial expression that is the result of up to 43 muscles working together to shape one’s mouth and face. Emotionally, it’s a tool that allows people to express a range of feelings, including joy, sadness, love, nervousness, amusement, dominance, approval, scorn, shyness, confidence, etc. Most any emotion you can think of is conveyed by a smile.

From a socio-economic perspective, a smile is a foot in the door, a positive job interview, and a hand up the ladder of economic success. From a health perspective, a smile conveys strength, fitness, and vigor. From an appearance point of view, a smile displays beauty and warmth. One thing I know for sure is that smiles are powerful things, and everyone deserves one.

For many years now the dental profession has been beating the drum that dental care is primary health care. That we even need to discuss this topic in the 21st century is a darn shame. Conditions in the mouth have been definitively linked to a whole range of issues, from heart disease to diabetes to cancer. Any dental care professional knows that the mouth is the gateway to the body, and conditions in the mouth are indicative of what is going on elsewhere. Yet it remains an ongoing struggle to get dental care prioritized in private health care plans and public health programs that assist those in need.

I wonder what would happen if we as a profession approached this from a different angle? Rather than talking about dentistry solely from a health care perspective, what would happen if we promoted the all-powerful smile as a symbol of great health and so much more? Better yet, what would happen if we pulled together, provided the ability to smile to a whole bunch of people, then were left with success stories to tell of lives changed for the better from many perspectives?

The Michigan Dental Association Foundation is the charitable arm of the Michigan Dental Association. The Foundation works to change the lives of Michigan residents for the better. The MDA Foundation does this by providing grants to community service clinics and scholarships to dental, dental hygiene, and dental assisting students who have expressed a strong desire to work in public health settings. Programs supported by the MDA Foundation provide preventive care, treatment of active disease, and oral health education. Scholarships provided by the Foundation make it easier for interested professionals to serve the public without having to worry quite so much about student loans and financial stability.

Most of all, the MDA Foundation works to protect, preserve, and provide people with the ability to smile. This in turn displays to policymakers, CEOs, and other power brokers in our society the dental profession’s commitment to selflessly serve others. After all, isn’t that the reason we all pursued this wonderful profession in the first place?

It’s hard to believe, but the end of the year is rapidly approaching. We’ll all be bombarded soon with appeals from hundreds of organizations seeking our end-of-year giving dollars. Please pay special attention to forthcoming information from your MDA Foundation. I hope that you will celebrate lives touched by our programs and desire to help us widen our impact. Everyone deserves a smile!

By Dan Peters, DDS
MDA Foundation President

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