The first Friday of every October is World Smile Day, a feel-good holiday that asks everyone to devote one day to acts of kindness that bring a smile to one’s face. The holiday was created by commercial artist Harvey Ball. You may not recognize the name, but you certainly recognize his work, as he was the designer of the iconic yellow smiley face. The first World Smile Day was held in 1999 and this year marks the 20th anniversary. You can learn more about the holiday on its official website here.
What are your plans for World Smile Day this year? Here are some ideas for how you can celebrate the day focused on smiling.
Give the Gift of Oral Care
Several charitable organizations work to provide resources on oral health as well as free or low-cost oral care to populations that need it, both here in the U.S. and around the world. Donations to these charities help vulnerable populations get the care they need that they’d be unable to get otherwise. Check out America’s Tooth Fairy, Global Dental Relief, and Remote Area Dental (RAM) for organizations that focus on dental care or Smiles Change Lives and Donated Orthodontic Services (DOS) for organizations that provide orthodontic treatment.
Give the Gift of Surgery
The World Health Organization estimates that cleft lips and/or palates occur in 1 out of 500-700 births worldwide. Depending on the severity, a cleft lip and/or palate can cause difficulty feeding, speech problems, oral health issues, hearing loss and ear infections, and social stigma. By donating your time and/or money to charities that provide safe surgeries to correct this problem, you can literally give a child a smile. Two well-known organizations that tackle this problem across the globe are Operation Smile and Smile Train.
Maybe you want to be more hands-on and make a difference in your community. That’s great! If you’re unsure where to start, why not speak to your current dentist or orthodontist? They may already partner with an organization that provides free education, dental care, or orthodontic treatment in your community, and would be happy to hook you up with an opportunity to donate your time or money to help in their mission. Or else take the initiative and reach out to women’s shelters, homeless shelters, or public schools that serve lower-income communities to see if they’d benefit from a donation of oral care kits of toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss.
Random Acts of Kindness
As an orthodontist, of course I see World Smile Day as a great day to focus on oral health, but the holiday is also about making other people smile through acts of kindness. You can find tons of ideas for activities and acts that are sure to bring a smile to someone’s face, whether that’s a friend, family member, neighbor, or stranger, on the Random Acts of Kindness website.
Smile! It’s World Smile Day
Remember what they say, “Smile, and the world smiles with you.” So be sure to smile on World Smile Day and spread joy to others!
Read the blog, Science Shows Smiling Increases Health and Happiness from Dr. Ana Castilla