The recently opened USask dental clinic hosted a free dental day on Oct. 23 for people in need who don’t have insurance or coverage to pay for their bill.
The clinic is a part of the dentistry college’s outreach clinic program. It has a full-time dentist on staff as well as senior dentistry students and visiting specialists. Every fourth year student in doctor of dental medicine will complete a two-week rotationat the Prince Albert clinic.
“While this clinic is an outreach site, it also operates as an educational clinic, as our senior dental students from the college of dentistry will complete their rotations through this clinic. As a college we are committed to educating our students an importance of providing culturally appropriate care and social responsibility,” said Dr. Amrinderbir Singh, director of inclusive community care with the college.
Singh also runs focus groups to understand community needs.
“We oftentimes assume a lot of things about individuals, about communities and about cultures that we don’t know and the idea is of engagement to know from the ground level as to what the reality is, what the culture is, what the need is, how people want the care to be delivered and work with the communities to design the care delivery,” Singh said.
The dean of the college of dentistry said having an outreach clinic in Prince Albert is important to expand the patient profile students work with. He said the clinic will give people access to good oral health “so that they can do the things they want to do with their lives.”
“(Oral health is) a resource that people need to have in order to be able to do the things they want to do in life. If you’ve got terrible teeth or other problems in your mouth you can’t talk properly, you can’t eat properly, you can’t eat the right foods,” said Dr. Doug Brothwell.
Brothwell said that improving access to dental care for people facing economic and non-economic barriers is the “number one priority” of the college’s strategic plan.
The dental clinic follows a standard of care and will never turn anyone away if they don’t have coverage and can’t afford services, Brothwell said. A sliding scale is being worked out and will be used to determine the fees that a patient will be charged based on their circumstances.
As for non-economic barriers, Brothwell said transportation can be an issue in accessing care. The city has offered parking for patients at no cost, and the clinic will also be providing transportation for seniors.
There are also educational barriers for people who have trouble reading about how to properly care for their teeth. Brothwell said the clinic will be working on education around dental care.
With the clinic just opening this month, Brothwell said one aspiration for the future is to be able to have childcare arrangements in place for any parent, but especially those who don’t have access to childcare. He said the focus groups will help in determining how they implement those decisions.
“We are working with the clientele that will access our clinic to best meet their needs and so it will be an evolving process as we determine what those needs are and perfect our ways of meeting those needs,” Brothwell said.
Ace Young, a dentistry student at the college said it’s been a privilege for him and other students to work in the city.
“The community members that we’ve gotten to serve here has been absolutely wonderful, I couldn’t imagine a better experience for an upcoming dentist and student,” Young said.
The clinic is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
— with files from Peter Lozinski