Free Scarborough dental clinic relieves pain but needs more volunteers

Community Jun 07, 2017 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

Many mouths they see tell an unpleasant story.

Too often, people in Toronto can’t afford dental care, even though they’re working, and they don’t know where to go for help.

“They’re having to make very tough decisions. As a result, a lot of them are living in pain,” says Dr. Amanda Morel, team co-ordinator for a free dental clinic which opened in an Agincourt office last month.  

Since 2005, a volunteer urban dental clinic worked around a single dental chair in a Lawrence Avenue building attached to the general campus of Scarborough and Rouge Hospital.

Now, these dentists with heart have installed three dental operatories above the Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Health Care at 4158 Sheppard Ave. E.

“We’re hoping to have all three busy, because we have such a waiting list of patients and there’s such a need,” Morel said last week.

“We’ve had people sitting in our chairs who’ve never had a cleaning before.”

One in five Ontarians can’t afford to visit a dentist. The province provides some coverage for children, seniors, people on Ontario Works, but the working poor are mostly on their own.

That leads to emergency room visits — 61,000 in 2015, according to the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) — which cost the system far more than preventive care would.

On her phone, Morel keeps an image of one Scarborough resident’s broken teeth. The woman was in constant pain, until she found the clinic and a lab in Markham made a set of dentures for free.

“Some of the most rewarding work I ever do is here,” said Dr. Omar Usman of Whitby, one of 10 volunteer dentists.

His hope, he said, is that people who benefit “can use it as a bridge” to self-sufficiency, and pay it forward. “It’s about building a community, not a Band-Aid.”

Dentists, the Henry Schein Corporation in Canada and the Rotary Club of Scarborough all gave equipment to the clinic (its number is 416-289-4349), which sees patients from across the Greater Toronto Area.

But Morel needs more dentists — 40, donating a half-day a month, would be ideal — and hygienists before the clinic can open every day.

The clinic, which only serves people after a financial screening, also needs a stable funding source. Morel is thinking of charging the paying public half-price for cleanings on weekends to raise money.

After the provincial Liberals released their budget this year, local dentists told Scarborough MPPs they didn’t think the system providing free dental care for needy Ontarians was working well.

On Tuesday, ODA president Dr. LouAnn Visconti said the organization, whose members once provided free care in their own offices, wants all Ontarians to receive dental care.

“Our motto is, ‘No one should go to bed in pain,’” Visconti said from Timmins.

The province took over dental care programs for the poor in the late 1990s. Since then, governments have expanded eligibility, but haven't provided enough funding for the programs, and at $5.60, said Visconti, Ontario spends the least per capita in Canada on dental care.

 

Free Scarborough dental clinic relieves pain but needs more volunteers

"No one should go to bed in pain," says ODA president

Community Jun 07, 2017 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

Many mouths they see tell an unpleasant story.

Too often, people in Toronto can’t afford dental care, even though they’re working, and they don’t know where to go for help.

“They’re having to make very tough decisions. As a result, a lot of them are living in pain,” says Dr. Amanda Morel, team co-ordinator for a free dental clinic which opened in an Agincourt office last month.  

Since 2005, a volunteer urban dental clinic worked around a single dental chair in a Lawrence Avenue building attached to the general campus of Scarborough and Rouge Hospital.

Now, these dentists with heart have installed three dental operatories above the Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Health Care at 4158 Sheppard Ave. E.

“We’re hoping to have all three busy, because we have such a waiting list of patients and there’s such a need,” Morel said last week.

“We’ve had people sitting in our chairs who’ve never had a cleaning before.”

One in five Ontarians can’t afford to visit a dentist. The province provides some coverage for children, seniors, people on Ontario Works, but the working poor are mostly on their own.

That leads to emergency room visits — 61,000 in 2015, according to the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) — which cost the system far more than preventive care would.

On her phone, Morel keeps an image of one Scarborough resident’s broken teeth. The woman was in constant pain, until she found the clinic and a lab in Markham made a set of dentures for free.

“Some of the most rewarding work I ever do is here,” said Dr. Omar Usman of Whitby, one of 10 volunteer dentists.

His hope, he said, is that people who benefit “can use it as a bridge” to self-sufficiency, and pay it forward. “It’s about building a community, not a Band-Aid.”

Dentists, the Henry Schein Corporation in Canada and the Rotary Club of Scarborough all gave equipment to the clinic (its number is 416-289-4349), which sees patients from across the Greater Toronto Area.

But Morel needs more dentists — 40, donating a half-day a month, would be ideal — and hygienists before the clinic can open every day.

The clinic, which only serves people after a financial screening, also needs a stable funding source. Morel is thinking of charging the paying public half-price for cleanings on weekends to raise money.

After the provincial Liberals released their budget this year, local dentists told Scarborough MPPs they didn’t think the system providing free dental care for needy Ontarians was working well.

On Tuesday, ODA president Dr. LouAnn Visconti said the organization, whose members once provided free care in their own offices, wants all Ontarians to receive dental care.

“Our motto is, ‘No one should go to bed in pain,’” Visconti said from Timmins.

The province took over dental care programs for the poor in the late 1990s. Since then, governments have expanded eligibility, but haven't provided enough funding for the programs, and at $5.60, said Visconti, Ontario spends the least per capita in Canada on dental care.

 

Free Scarborough dental clinic relieves pain but needs more volunteers

"No one should go to bed in pain," says ODA president

Community Jun 07, 2017 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

Many mouths they see tell an unpleasant story.

Too often, people in Toronto can’t afford dental care, even though they’re working, and they don’t know where to go for help.

“They’re having to make very tough decisions. As a result, a lot of them are living in pain,” says Dr. Amanda Morel, team co-ordinator for a free dental clinic which opened in an Agincourt office last month.  

Since 2005, a volunteer urban dental clinic worked around a single dental chair in a Lawrence Avenue building attached to the general campus of Scarborough and Rouge Hospital.

Now, these dentists with heart have installed three dental operatories above the Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Health Care at 4158 Sheppard Ave. E.

“We’re hoping to have all three busy, because we have such a waiting list of patients and there’s such a need,” Morel said last week.

“We’ve had people sitting in our chairs who’ve never had a cleaning before.”

One in five Ontarians can’t afford to visit a dentist. The province provides some coverage for children, seniors, people on Ontario Works, but the working poor are mostly on their own.

That leads to emergency room visits — 61,000 in 2015, according to the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) — which cost the system far more than preventive care would.

On her phone, Morel keeps an image of one Scarborough resident’s broken teeth. The woman was in constant pain, until she found the clinic and a lab in Markham made a set of dentures for free.

“Some of the most rewarding work I ever do is here,” said Dr. Omar Usman of Whitby, one of 10 volunteer dentists.

His hope, he said, is that people who benefit “can use it as a bridge” to self-sufficiency, and pay it forward. “It’s about building a community, not a Band-Aid.”

Dentists, the Henry Schein Corporation in Canada and the Rotary Club of Scarborough all gave equipment to the clinic (its number is 416-289-4349), which sees patients from across the Greater Toronto Area.

But Morel needs more dentists — 40, donating a half-day a month, would be ideal — and hygienists before the clinic can open every day.

The clinic, which only serves people after a financial screening, also needs a stable funding source. Morel is thinking of charging the paying public half-price for cleanings on weekends to raise money.

After the provincial Liberals released their budget this year, local dentists told Scarborough MPPs they didn’t think the system providing free dental care for needy Ontarians was working well.

On Tuesday, ODA president Dr. LouAnn Visconti said the organization, whose members once provided free care in their own offices, wants all Ontarians to receive dental care.

“Our motto is, ‘No one should go to bed in pain,’” Visconti said from Timmins.

The province took over dental care programs for the poor in the late 1990s. Since then, governments have expanded eligibility, but haven't provided enough funding for the programs, and at $5.60, said Visconti, Ontario spends the least per capita in Canada on dental care.