When a child is born with a cleft, their families often don’t know where to turn for help.
In many communities, people have never even heard of clefts, yet it’s one of the most common birth differences. In fact, one in every 700 babies worldwide is born with a cleft. That’s why, in honor of World Oral Health Day on March 20th, GSK Consumer Healthcare and their partner, Smile Train, the world’s largest and most sustainable cleft charity, aren’t just celebrating the theme “Be Proud of Your Mouth.” They are also helping thousands of children around the world live it!
GSK Consumer Healthcare, the maker of Sensodyne and Aquafresh, has a passion for researching and developing science-led solutions that benefit everyone. They firmly believe that everyone deserves oral health care, but they know not everyone has equal access to it. Their goal is to change that fact, working with Smile Train to help people everywhere access the oral health care they need to be proud of their mouths!
“Our belief that mouths should be a source of joy, not pain, and our commitment to fighting preventable oral health problems with science-based products and services, aligns with Smile Train’s vision that every child born with [a] cleft … should receive the oral healthcare they need.”
In 2018, GSK Consumer Healthcare formed a partnership with Smile Train. Together, they’ve supported greater access to healthcare, raised awareness about clefts, and increased healthcare inclusivity, one smile at a time.
Through their partnership, GSK Consumer Healthcare has so far helped Smile Train educate 8,813 healthcare professionals to perpetuate their sustainable model of cleft care. They’ve also enabled 13,537 life-changing surgeries and supported 38,000 families worldwide. And they’re not finished yet!
Félix from Argentina is one child who has received life-changing cleft care thanks to GSK Consumer Healthcare and Smile Train’s partnership. After being born with a cleft, Félix was fortunate to be sent straight to a Smile Train partner hospital to meet with a team of specialists.
Because of this early intervention, Félix was fitted with a specialized prosthesis to get a head start on closing his cleft before surgery. His family was also counseled on nutrition and feeding techniques to help their son grow strong enough for surgery.
His mother was astonished to discover that because of Smile Train and their partnership with GSK Consumer Healthcare, all of the specialized care he would need at every stage of his cleft journey would be provided 100 percent free!
“Every time I had to put the prosthesis on him or tape it on, I asked the doctor if we would have to pay for something, and she always answered that we didn’t,” mom Noelia recalled. “Once, I lost the prosthesis by accident and thought, ‘Where am I ever going to get money to pay for it?’ But since it was an accident, they made Félix a new prosthesis at no cost. It was a great relief.”
With one surgery down, Félix is thriving. He is currently undergoing speech therapy, and there will be more surgeries and specialized orthodontics in his future, but his family sleeps easy knowing that GSK Consumer Healthcare and Smile Train will support their son every step of the way. Most importantly, this life-changing care has enabled his mother to dream of a bright, happy future for her son.
“I am not afraid of Félix going to school; I know he will make it,” Noelia said. “My wish for Félix’s future is to be happy, not to be afraid of being who he is, not to feel shame for his cleft. He has to love himself as he is.”
Félix is just one of many children whose lives were transformed thanks to GSK Consumer Healthcare and Smile Train. GSK Consumer Healthcare will continue to provide Smile Train with valuable funding, support, and expertise to help more children with clefts live their best lives. Through this partnership, GSK Consumer Healthcare is fulfilling their purpose to “To Deliver Better Everyday Health with Humanity!”
Every child deserves to be proud of their mouth. So will you join us on World Oral Health Day in spreading the word about GSK Consumer Healthcare’s amazing impact? Share this story today!
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