Kerry Washington on Helping Families Get Free Oral Health Care: 'Our Smile Is Where Our Confidence Lives'

The actress is working with ByteCares to help provide free teledentistry to more than 10 high schools in South L.A.

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Photo: ABC

Kerry Washington says having a great smile is a key ingredient to success.

"I always say when you're finding your voice, it's impossible to express your voice, if you are afraid to open your mouth," she tells PEOPLE. "Our smile is where our confidence live."

So the Little Fires Everywhere actress, 43, teamed up with ByteCares to help provide teledentistry to those in need. She says her desire to help others comes from her childhood.

"As somebody who came from the Bronx, I understand that from the moment we enter this world certain limitations are put upon people based on zip code or race," says Washington. "It’s so important to me that we democratize access to quality health care and therefore quality of life."

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Washington has been working with ByteCares, which alongside the L.A. Promise Fund, is helping more than 10 high schools in South Los Angeles.

The actress adds that the goal is to improve 10,000 smiles by 2022.

"Considering where I come from, I really know how important it is to be able to have access to health care and tools that help you build your confidence," says Washington.

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