On April 8, 2017 the University of Saskatchewan’s (U of S) College of Dentistry produced more gleaming-white smiles than usual. The U of S hosted Saskatoon’s first-ever Dental Day YXE, which offered free dental services to individuals and families unable to access care due to financial constraints. Community members flooded through the College of Dentistry doors from 8 am until 4 pm, in eager anticipation of dental cleanings, extractions, fillings, root canals, and denture repairs.
Dr. Alyssa Hayes, assistant professor of dental public health at the U of S, expressed the motivation behind the day, “We can impact many lives by relieving people of dental pain and improving oral health,” she said. “It is also a great way to bring the profession together and strengthen those bonds as a dental community as well as to the communities we serve on a daily basis .” She and Dr. Briere organized Dental Day YXE to be held at the U of S, and encouraged other professionals to offer their services.
150 oral health professionals donated their time and expertise to provide care to community members. With over $68,000 of treatments being provided free of cost, it was a hectic but gratifying day for those involved. Even with a full day of services being offered, a few people had to be turned away due to the day being at capacity. College of Dentistry student Jessie Zoorkan reflected on the demand, “It’s really eye opening to see how many people don’t have access to oral healthcare—there’s just not a lot of programming available to address those needs.”
While time and talent of trained professionals was imperative to make Dental Day YXE a success, so was the support of generous donors who provided over $20,000 of supplies for procedures. Organizations saw high value in the local initiative and generously offered their help, including: 3M Oral Care, Brasseler, Carlton Dental Laboratories, Dentsply Sirona, Hu-Friedy, KaVo Kerr, Medicom, MNP, Pita Pit, Reiss, Saskatchewan Dental Assistants Association, Septodont, Sinclair Dental, Vocco, as well as Wiegers Financial & Benefits.
With such a large turnout, the College of Dentistry hopes to host Dental Day YXE again, making it an annual event. Armed with the support of local donors and professionals, the day of philanthropy is certain to keep the community beaming. Volunteer dentist Lauretta Gray put it best with her summary of the day, “We don’t need to travel to other countries to do outreach work—we have so much need just in our own city. We can reach out to the people that need it.”
Dental Day YXE: By the numbers
200: total patients treated
$20,000: value of donated supplies
$68,286: value of treatments performed as per provincial dental fees
$0: out-of-pocket cost for patients at Dental Day YXE