Smile Train and Dentsply Sirona Officially Set GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ Title

What better way to celebrate World Smile Day® than by making smile history?

Smiley with their hands in the air at Worcester Historical Museum

At Smile Train, we always say there is no length we won’t go to make someone smile. And we just proved it to the world — and made history.

This year, we were determined to go bigger and bolder in celebrating smiles than anyone had ever gone before. So we made a goal to set the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for “World’s Largest Online Album of Smiling Mouths” by Friday, October 6, World Smile Day®.

GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ gave us a number to beat — 20,000 unique photos. Then our partners in smiles at Dentsply Sirona, the world’s largest manufacturer of dental supplies and technologies, upped the stakes with a pledge to donate an additional $120,000 to Smile Train if we set the record.

We got straight to work. We spent the summer canvassing the world to collect smiles of every shape and hue. We showed up at conferences, parks, crowded subways, malls, tourist destinations, baseball games and carpeted social media, all with one request: Show us your beautiful smile.

Smile Train patient Jenious from Nepal holding a picture of himself before cleft surgery and smiling
Smile Train patient Jenious from Nepal

That may sound like a simple solicitation, but for many people, it’s anything but. Though smiles are perhaps the most universal symbol of joy, many people have been taught to be ashamed of their smiles. People with clefts, especially, are often harassed and bullied because their smiles sometimes look different from what people are used to.

As we strove to set this record, our true goal was something even more significant: to amplify a potentially lifesaving message around the world: Every grin is gorgeous. Every snicker is a flicker of hope. Every smile deserves to be seen.

On the morning of October 6, we met an official GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ adjudicator at a place that likewise knows that a smile can change the world: the Worcester Historical Museum in Worcester, MA, home of Harvey Ball, who created the iconic yellow smiley face in 1963 and World Smile Day® in 1999.

Following remarks from Smile Train President and CEO Susannah Schaefer welcoming the crowd — which included Harvey’s daughter Jacquelyn Stein and Worcester mayor Joe Petty — and Erania Brackett, Dentsply Sirona’s Senior Vice President Orthodontic Aligner Solutions & Customer Experience and Head of Sustainability, the moment we had spent all summer hustling towards had at last arrived.

Guinness World Records adjudicator Michael Empric making a big announcement in Worcester, MA
GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ adjudicator Michael Empric on the cusp of a big announcement

All in attendance sucked in their breath as the adjudicator ascended to the stage, large envelope in hand. Standing before the microphone, he paused.

Then he smiled.

With 21,271 unique smiles collected, Smile Train and Dentsply Sirona had officially set a new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title!

Erania Brackett and Susannah Shaefer posing with Michael Empric and their official Guinness World Records title certificates
L to R: Erania Brackett (L) and Susannah Schaefer (R) pose with GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ adjudicator Michael Empric and their newly minted record certificates

The audience, now and forever witnesses to history, cheered and toasted as Susie spoke once again.

“This was truly a global effort!” she said. “This honor is a win for the cleft community and all individuals born with a facial difference. At Smile Train, we’re passionate about smiles because we know what a serious business they are. As an organization that supports free cleft surgeries and other comprehensive cleft care, this achievement reinforces the message that all smiles are beautiful.”

But the day’s biggest ovation went to Erania, as she handed Susie a check for $120,000.

Erania handing Susie a check for $120,000
Together with Dentsply Sirona, we’re making the whole world smile this World Smile Day®

“We are proud to help shine a light on the important work that Smile Train does to help children and all people living with clefts. This additional donation will help us continue to provide life-changing surgeries and safe and quality comprehensive cleft care to children all around the world,” she said.