AAO Donated Orthodontic Services (DOS) Program
Introduced in 2009, the AAO Donated Orthodontic Services (DOS) program reflects concern among the AAO leadership about access to orthodontic treatment for children in need. Access to quality dental care is acknowledged as being an issue of great proportion. As a result, AAO provided startup funding for pilot programs in five states: Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, New Jersey and Rhode Island. The AAO DOS program mission is to serve indigent children without insurance coverage or that do not qualify for other assistance in their state of residence. Program development is overseen and administered by Dental Lifeline Network (DLN), the largest and most established dental charity providing access to comprehensive dental care to people with disabilities or who are aged or medically at risk.
Each DOS state has one or two orthodontists who volunteer as statewide DOS program chairs who lead patient recruitment efforts encouraging other doctors to volunteer and serve as liaisons with the participating orthodontists and state orthodontic association leaders and DLN to ensure that the programs run smoothly. As the pilot programs were developed, these state chairs identified and implemented patient eligibility criteria appropriate to their particular states. They worked in partnership with DLN and AAO staff to create recruitment and referral brochures used to recruit volunteer orthodontists to treat patients as well as target patients needing treatment.
Prospective DOS patients are intensively screened by DLN coordinators to assess financial need and to project levels of compliance with orthodontic treatment requirements. Volunteer orthodontists are asked to accept at least one new DOS case each year, but determine their own patient load. They are asked to review every case in advance and have the right to decline to treat any patient. Orthodontists are not expected to underwrite the costs of appliances used in treatment and are encouraged to request donations of these materials from laboratories or orthodontic supply companies they normally use.
As of March 2014, DOS programs have been deemed a success with the following results:
- Over 397 orthodontists have volunteered to provide orthodontic care
- 453 children have been placed with volunteer orthodontists
- 229 cases have completed treatment
Based on the success of the pilot initiatives, the AAO Access to Care Task Force (AAO ATC TF) has developed a plan to expand into the other 45 states.
While a number of well-respected charitable programs offer orthodontic treatment to needy children, the AAO program distinguishes itself as the Association’s program. Further, DOS can be tailored to meet individual state needs. From the onset, each state association is engaged to determine its own program eligibility and financial criteria for applicants to be sensitive to unique state situations. Despite the opportunities to somewhat customize the design of each state program, once a DOS program is underway, operations are handled consistently.
A number of additional features have contributed to the DOS program’s success and acceptance by orthodontists:
- Orthodontists control the program and all AAO members can volunteer, regardless of location
- All funding/donations are used to coordinate services, offering complete transparency
- Program fundraising is not required of volunteer orthodontists
- The AAO DOS program offers a low cost per patient to administer; patient participation costs are low
- The program helps enhance AAO’s public image, our credibility with legislators and serves to facilitate lobbying efforts
The AAO has established a DOS charitable entity (501-C)(3) to which all monies (vendor donations and patient fees) will be paid.
A DOS Board is being established to provide program oversight.
American Association of Orthodontists’ Donated Orthodontic Services Program Announces Three New Gifts
New Orleans (April 28, 2014) – The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), a professional organization that has more than 17,000 member orthodontists in the U.S., Canada and abroad, and is currently holding its Annual Session in New Orleans, announces three donations made in support of its Donated Orthodontic Services (DOS) program. The donors are AlignTechnology, Inc., Dentsply GAC International and Sesame Communications. The DOS program provides orthodontic care to underserved children without insurance coverage, or who do not qualify for other assistance in their state of residence.
Align Technology, Inc. has donated $100,000. A global medical device company, Align Technology, is the developer of the invisible orthodontic system Invisalign®, the iTero®, intraoral scanner and OrthoCAD®, services. “Align Technology is committed to developing innovative technologies that help to create beautiful smiles,” says Thomas M. Prescott, President and CEO. “We hope our support of the DOS program will make it possible for more people to discover the confidence that comes from a better smile.”
Dentsply GAC International, a leading orthodontic products company based in Islandia, New York, has donated $25,000 to be used within the DOS program throughout 2014 and 2014. “This gift to the AAO’s DOS program underscores our company’s commitment for access to orthodontic treatment for patients of all backgrounds,” says Howard Bowne, Vice-President and General Manager. “We are proud and pleased to support this worthy cause.”
Sesame Communications, a company dedicated to bolstering the online image of dental and orthodontic practices, has gifted $2,500 to the DOS program.
Currently in five states (Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, New Jersey, Rhode Island), efforts are underway to expand the DOS program. “We are enthusiastic about the possibility of expanding the DOS network because of the generosity of these three organizations,” says Gayle Glenn, D.D.S., M.S.D., president of the AAO. “So many underserved children will receive quality orthodontic care because of these generous gifts. That’s a lot to smile about.
“Many parents are facing difficulties in providing health and dental services for their children, and that includes orthodontic treatment,” continued Dr. Glenn. “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, 229 children have completed treatment, and 453 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, 397orthodontic 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 potentially painful dental disorders. Orthodontic treatment can lead to better dental health and function. A life-changing 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.
Orthodontists who volunteer for the DOS program are not compensated for their time or reimbursed for the cost of appliances (braces, clear aligners, etc.), 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.
About the American Association of Orthodontists: Founded in 1900, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) is the world’s oldest and largest dental specialty organization. The Association encourages and sponsors key research to enable its members to provide the highest quality of care to patients, and is committed to educating the public about the need for, and benefits of, orthodontic treatment.
Orthodontists are uniquely qualified specialists who diagnose, prevent and treat dental and facial irregularities to correctly align teeth and jaws.
For more information about orthodontics or to find nearby AAO member orthodontists, visit mylifemysmile.org.