Healing Smiles Foundation (HSF) is an initiative of the Indian Dental Association (IDA) to help children and adults with cleft lip, cleft palate, and craniofacial anomalies. The foundation is dedicated to optimizing the quality of life for individuals affected by facial birth defects; because these conditions affect a child's appearance and ability to hear, speak, eat, breathe, socialize or smile. In some places these children are shunned and rejected.
Based on the last study by World Health Organization (WHO), many children around the world are living with untreated clefts.
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Minutes can change a child’s Life forever!
cases of unrepaired cleft lip & palate in India
Therefore, in 2012 Indian Dental Association (IDA) started Healing Smile Foundation (HSF) for reconstructive services to children with cleft lips and palates (CLP). The foundation offers the gift of confidence and hope to children, adults & their families by assuring them access to cutting-edge care from world-class practitioners across the country. IDA's resources and knowledge will enhance comprehensive treatment, train the specialists of tomorrow & conduct advanced research.
Many patients require an entire team of doctors/ surgeons, nurses, pediatricians, dentists, psychologists, speech therapists and support staff to correct deformities, functional deficit and psychological distress. Therefore, Healing Smile Foundation (HSF) has a multidisciplinary humanitarian approach consisting of maxillofacial surgeons, orthodontists, prosthodontists, plastic surgeons, neurosurgeons, otolaryngologist, ophthalmologist, speech pathologists, geneticist, pediatricians and anesthesiologists. Specialists from psychology, social work and nursing provide clinical psychological and social care for patients and their families.
To restore the face as OUR face; our expressions are the means by which we communicate with our fellow human beings. It is a great cruelty to have this taken away either by disease or accident.
HSF’s mission statement is to heal broken smiles and enhance the quality of life for individuals by providing comprehensive treatment for CLP deformities.
Cleft lip and palate is one of the commonest congenital abnormalities. A cleft occurs when certain body parts and structures of the face like the lip and palate do not fuse together during fetal development.
Clefts can involve the lip and/or the roof of the mouth (palate) along with some clefts involving the face. The type of clefts can range from a simple incomplete cleft of the soft palate, which is not clinically obvious and may be undiagnosed in the early days, to a bilateral complete cleft involving both, the soft and hard palate, alveolus and lip. Some clefts are associated with syndromes which can have other systemic manifestations.
No one knows exactly, but most experts agree that the causes of cleft lip and/or palate are multifactorial and may include the following:
In most cases, it is not known what has caused a cleft lip and/or palate, but research is ongoing to better understand the condition.
Most children with untreated clefts live in isolation, making it hard for them to socialize, like making friends or going to school, but more importantly, children with untreated clefts can have difficulties eating, breathing, and speaking, and are at high risk of severe malnutrition.
Yes, clefts are a medical condition that can be treated with reconstructive surgery at various stages of the growth of the child & patients and parents will see an immediate transformation. The treatment of clefts needs a multidisciplinary approach with doctors from varying fields and social workers working in tandem for a comprehensive treatment of the child.
According to the estimates of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Indian population is increasing by 24.5 million births per year and the birth prevalence of clefts is somewhere between 27,000 and 33,000 clefts per year. Cleft lip and palate may be perceived to be a life threatening abnormality and there may be little awareness of the fact that clefts can be surgically repaired with considerable success both aesthetically and functionally. The lack of knowledge and resources results in unacceptable delays in seeking and receiving adequate medical care, due to which, many infants with CLP die of malnutrition or infection.
Children with cleft struggle to do simple everyday tasks that come naturally to us, like to feed/ eat, speak and even breathe! Addressing these challenges often requires more than just a couple of surgeries. It requires active participation of various disciplines of medicine to comprehensively treat the patient. Therefore, holistic care of an individual with cleft is best provided by a multidisciplinary team of professionals collaborating to treat the issues created by a cleft of the lip, dental arch, palate and/or other facial deformities. There is a paucity of collated data regarding details of all available centres specifically for clefts throughout the country and this poses a challenge for availing treatment.
With the Healing Smiles Foundation, IDA aims to take up these issues & bridge this gap/ lacunae with regards to cleft treatment in India.