Hygienists at Lifetime Smiles Dental Hygiene Clinic are participating in a wonderful volunteer event, help us to share a Gift from your own Heart this Valentine’s Day by spreading the word of what we’re trying to do.
2014 marks the 4th year for our clinic to participate in this event. It will take place on Saturday February 8th in Calgary and Claresholm, Alberta and is open to those who could not otherwise afford basic dental hygiene care.
It all started 5 years ago with Bev Woods – Ontario Dental Hygienist and founder of the event – who wanted to bring public awareness to the overwhelming number of Ontarian’s unable to afford oral health care. This event was embraced by Registered Dental Hygienists across Canada and became an annual event of giving back. Dental hygienists is several provinces now participate.
Gift From The Heart occurring on the same day across the country brings attention to the fact that despite Canada’s favorable economy there are many for whom the cost of dental care just does not fit into their budget, parents who go without so their children can have treatment, or children who go without basic preventative dental treatment until they end up in the operating room of a children’s hospital having numerous dental procedures carried out under general anesthesia. I am not referring to the cost of root canal treatment or a dental crown, but the cost of basic preventative dental hygiene care. Preventative services promote oral health, prevent more serious dental problems, and are essential to whole body health. Preventative care that dental hygienists specialize in.
Appointment times fill quickly, and many names go on waiting lists in hopes that they can experience a professional dental cleaning. Children are seen for the first time ever at ages far older than recommended. Adults with serious dental issues and oral pathology are put in touch with organizations, services, and specialists previously unknown to them. Individuals are educated about the preventative benefits of home care, links to systemic health, and the impact of their prescription drugs on oral health. They experience dental health care for the first time in many years, and for some this is their first time. Young single parents receive education so they can care for their children’s teeth at home. Community organizations that assist under-serviced populations refer clients to this event, and other healthcare professionals learn more about dental hygienists and the level of care we can provide.
Individuals treated are very appreciative of the event, and it can be quite heart wrenching at times for the volunteers. It is very difficult to hear a sad story and yet have to explain that there are no other appointments available, and turn away those in need. For many dental hygienists in Canada, the clients seen daily at their jobs are clients who can afford fee for service dental care, and have dental coverage, not those who have fallen through the cracks in the system, or are experiencing hard times. Volunteering in an event like this exposes dental hygienist to a new demographic of clients. Gift From The Heart is an eye opening event, and an opportunity to give back, and I encourage all dental hygienists to consider participating.
Everyone in Canada deserves access to care. Just imagine what a toothache feels like..a toothache that keeps you up all night…and now just imagine it is a young child in this kind of pain…we don’t want to. Dental Hygienists want to share the gift of prevention.
You don’t have to be a dental hygienist to help. Many hands make light work.We have had a variety of volunteers in the past.
What can you do?
-contact a participating clinic and ask what they need (they may need posters distributed, or a shot of caffeine on February 9th)
-help spread the word, tell others, share on facebook, twitter, email
-tell us how you would like to help
There are many ways to be involved. Just ask…you’ll be glad you did!!