Saturday, Feb. 17 was Smile Day, an annual day of no cost dental hygiene services, provided at the Smile People dental hygiene clinic in Salmon Arm.
The dental health services are donated to those who otherwise cannot access them.
Smile Day was created locally in 2009 to bring public awareness to the many people who are unable to access dental care in Canada, and to B.C.’s unique rule which prevents most dental hygienists in the province from helping most of these people unless they have had even a cursory exam, done by a dentist licensed in B.C. within the last year.
The equivalent of $1,494, according to the current BC Dental Hygiene Fee Guide, was provided in services during Smile Day.
People from as far as Kelowna and Celista signed up to receive the free treatment. Heavy snow on Feb. 17 created additional barriers for the participants.
Several participants reported experiencing dental pain. Besides long overdue cleanings, digital imaging from Velscope Oral Cancer screening was sent to one participant’s doctor.
Another participant received interim stabilization therapy, and all participants received xylitol treatment to target the acidic bacteria that cause tooth decay.
Liz-Ann Munro Lamarre from Smile People said some reasons Smile Day participants gave for being unable to access local dentists were: Not having the money for dental fees, being unable to afford to take time off work to access dental offices and being disabled yet unable to use ministry dental coverage without having to pay out of pocket.
Gift From The Heart day is a national event similar to Smile Day held by dental hygiene clinics throughout Canada on Saturday, April 7. Check out www.giftfromtheheart.ca and sign up early as the appointments fill up quickly.