Founder - Help A Child Smile
'Help A Child Smile' was started by high school student Siya, also the co-founder of The Neelok Foundation. The death of her grandmother from oral cancer and the US Senate Committee Report describing "The Dental Crisis in America", spurred her to tackle the high incidence of oral cancer and pediatric dental disease and raise awareness about the importance of early detection and treatment.
Through oral health seminars in schools, distribution of educational brochures and free dental hygiene kits, and an expanding group of volunteers and dental professionals providing free care, Help A Child Smile has created a network across Georgia, the south side of Chicago, the slums of Delhi, India, and is working to reach underserved communities in other states in the US.
Help the Child Smile is dedicated to raising awareness of pediatric dental disease and oral cancer and bridging oral healthcare inequalities in low-income, rural, and underserved areas. We believe that we must strive to bring equitable healthcare to marginalized communities and enable progress in society by increasing access to affordable care.
Pediatric Dental Disease
Pediatric dental disease deteriorates a child’s quality of life, impairs development, and can lead to malnutrition, pain, infection, problems in speaking, and future risk of heart disease, diabetes, and dementia. Children who receive regular dental care and develop good habits early in life have better lifelong oral health and fewer problems.
Oral cancer includes cancer of the mouth, tongue, tonsils, and throat cancer. It has been annually increasing and this is expected to continue as there is no national screening protocol and the risk factors continue to be relatively unchanged.
The US Surgeon General describes dental disease as a silent epidemic
It is the most prevalent unmet healthcare need. Over 47 million people in the US live in places where it is difficult to access dental care and 17 million children received no care at all. There were over 830,000 visits to emergency rooms across the country for preventable dental conditions, with over 51 million lost school hours and 164 million work hours.
World-wide, the statistics are much grimmer. Oral diseases affect half of the world’s population - 3.58 billion people - and 30% of people over 65 have no remaining teeth. The oral health care demands are beyond the capacities of the health care systems in low and middle-income countries. And in the US, nearly 9,500 new dental providers are needed to meet the country’s current oral health needs.
The disparity between the rich and the poor is growing in dental disease. Low-income, rural, and marginalized communities suffer disproportionately and have 5 times higher incidence of problems.
Early Detection of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is among the leading cancers of the world and in Asian-Pacific countries, the incidence is within the top 3 of all cancers.
Over 52,000 people in the US are diagnosed annually. It causes over 9,750 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. Of the survivors, only half will be alive in 5 years. Worldwide the problem is greater, with over 530,000 new cases detected annually and the incidence slowly increasing.
Oral cancer is particularly dangerous because in its early stages it is painless and goes unnoticed. Its mortality rate is high due to lack of awareness of risk factors and preventative screenings and the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development
Dental disease is the most common chronic disease in the world. It affects half the world's population, almost 3.5 billion people.
Over 215 million school and work hours are lost annually due to oral infections and pain. The cost to society from absenteeism and loss of productivity is estimated to be $144 billion per year.