As the national economy entered its deepest recession in almost 100 years, many across the country felt increased stress which resulted in a sharp rise in domestic violence.
According to the National Coalition of Domestic Violence, 75 percent of battering occurs to the head and face. Every year, more than five million people are affected by domestic violence in the United States and Canada.
A program called Give Back a Smile (GBAS), founded by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), uses volunteer cosmetic dentists to restore the damaged teeth of domestic violence survivors at no cost.
Founded in 1999, the program matches domestic violence survivors with dentists and laboratories who volunteer their services. The program helps survivors rejuvenate their lives through the caring hands of a local dentist.
Volunteer dentists and laboratory technicians agree to restore the broken and damaged teeth of survivors of intimate partner violence. Give Back a Smile dentists erase the memories of abuse by restoring the smiles at no cost to the survivor thereby restoring their dental and oral health.
Domestic violence survivors are carefully screened and a counselor or social worker must confirm that the injuries were caused by domestic violence. The screening may be done through checking police reports or restraining orders.
Who is eligible?
• Adult women and men who received injuries from a former intimate partner or spouse.
• A survivor whose injuries are to the smile-zone.
• The program does not replace work that has been already repaired through previous enrollment in the GBAS program or by the survivor’s own dentist.
• Individuals that have been out of the abusive relationship for over one year.
• Applications will be accepted prior to the one-year mark but will be placed on a waiting list until the requirement has been met.
• Applicants are responsible for updating the GBAS program with all contact Information.