Making an Impact by Giving Back, One Smile at a Time

by Lisa Hardill, RDH, BHADM

As healthcare professionals, we are passionate about positively impacting our patients’ lives and giving back to the communities we serve.

With April being National Oral Health Month, many Canadian dental practices will be celebrating in different ways. dentalcorp, the organization I work with, recognizes National Oral Health Month by donating their time and skills through Give Back, Smile Back, a program created to help provide necessary dental care to marginalized children and adults. In the past seven years, dentalcorp practices from coast to coast have donated over $1 million in time and services to help those most at risk.

Even though access to care rates in Canada are among the highest in the world, there are still at-risk Canadians who face barriers to the services they need. Access to oral care is vital for the overall health and well-being of all Canadians.

As dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants we’re in a unique position to provide a variety of services including diagnostic, preventative, restorative, and surgical, and equally important, we can identify red flags, risk factors, and areas of concern related to conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and oral cancer.

We know that there are Canadians of all ages, in every province, with issues related to access to oral care, some more complex than others. In addition to living with unnecessary pain, untreated oral health issues can affect a child’s quality of sleep and ability to focus and learn, and longer term it can lead to serious health issues and contribute to a debilitating lack of self-esteem. This Oral Health Month, we as dental professionals have a collective opportunity to contribute our time and skills to meet the needs of our respective communities and positively impact an individual’s quality of life.

From a work/life balance perspective it can be challenging to juggle our work, family and social responsibilities and still carve out time to volunteer. However, donating your time and skills can be incredibly uplifting and rewarding.

My colleague Heather McLeod, Practice Manager at dentalcorp’s St. Clair Beach Dental in southwestern Ontario, describes her team’s Give Back, Smile Back experience well: “As our team prepared for the day, you could feel the energy building as we booked each patient, each family. We were so proud to be providing free dental services to people in need. But somewhere along the journey, the tides changed as we listened to their stories and how they found themselves in their individual troubled situation. They were so grateful to be receiving our care and we, in turn, felt privileged to provide it.”

So this Oral Health Month take some time to think about your community, get involved and seek an opportunity to volunteer your professional dental skills. Together we can make a significant impact in the lives of Canadians in need, one smile at a time.

Learn more about Give Back Smile Back.

About the Author

Lisa Hardill, RDH, BHADM, is a dental hygienist with experience in public health, independent and private practice, education, and sales within the industry. She is currently a Clinical Development Manager with dentalcorp. Over the years, she has been involved in the dental hygiene field in numerous ways, including as a quality assurance peer assessor for the CDHO, as non-council member of the Registration Committee with the CDHO, Team Lead for Public Health Unit, and on the Board of Directors for Gift from the Heart