Beyond the Smile


We all know that a cleft surgery can cost as little as $240 – but did you know that some patients need more than one surgery? That many of our patients often need additional follow-up care, including dental, nutrition and speech therapy (as seen above).

All over the world, Operation Smile does everything it can to provide this comprehensive health care to our patients. In many places where we work, we’ve built care centers devoted to delivering year-round services, providing patients with a thorough course of treatment led by our team of specialists. Each year, our centers deliver hundreds of thousands of consultations.

Operation Smile kicks off its 40th anniversary in November 2021, and to mark the occasion, we’re asking for our student volunteers to rally together and provide such comprehensive care treatments for our patients worldwide.

We’re setting a big challenge for our 40th anniversary: Can you help get 40 people to contribute to each of the four specialties below?

Why we provide this care: As children develop, their facial structure changes. Dentistry  and orthodontics help keep their teeth and jaw aligned.

How does this help: This provides preventative and restorative dentistry to reduce the risk of cavities and plaque before surgery. While this cost is estimated at $100 U.S., it’s important to note that each patient’s needs and treatment varies – as does the cost of that treatment. But this care is critical and will help boost their overall dental health.

Why we provide this: Patients with cleft conditions often report being isolated from their communities or experiencing bullying. Psychological support is needed throughout their care  journey.

How does this help: iPads and other tablet type devices offer a wide range of value for psychosocial providers. The devices are portable, engaging, and useful. iPads can be used to help families understand and cope with their health care experience, play music to promote coping and relationship building, and provide games, books and videos to promote learning and relationship building.

Why we provide this: Babies with cleft lip and cleft palate often have difficulty feeding. Parents receive nutritional counseling to support their child.

How does this help: This will help provide nutrition supplies for one child for about a year. We provide nutritional care both before and after a patient’s surgery – to help ensure they’re healthy enough for surgery, and to provide support as they heal.

Why we provide this: Speech development is often impacted as a result of a cleft condition. Speech therapy improves speech as children develop.

How does this help: The iPads will be loaded with different helpful applications that will support speech pathology lessons.