Free dental care day draws appreciative crowd in Orillia

More than 100 people are taking advantage of Georgian Dental’s free dental care offer today.

It’s the ninth free dental day for Dr. Adam Tan, who works out of the 20 Diana Dr. location. Office manager Sandra Bennett says there is a “huge” need in the community for dental care, especially with the escalating dental expenses.

“A lot of people don’t have extra income to do things like have a dental visit,” she said. “Once a year, we put on this event for adults who are 18 years or older and eligible for a cleaning, have a filling placed, or have a tooth removed.”

The event is on a first-come, first-served basis and runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bennett says there is always a long lineup.

“In other years, we had a gentleman take a bus up from Barrie and stood outside the office all night waiting to be seen,” she said. “People sleep in their car or bring a camp chair and start lining up at three or four o’clock in the morning.”

The long lineups each year prove there is a need for free dental in the region, Bennett says.

“We hope to inspire other offices to do the same,” she said. “Some people are fortunate to have insurance, but not everyone does.”

Bennett says the free service brings in people from various walks of life. Invitations have been sent to local shelters, charity organizations, and anyone they can think of who might need help.

“We have seniors waiting in the lineup,” she said. “We see young people who are maybe just out of school and are off their parents’ benefits and are on their own. We have a full range of people who come and are just so appreciative of our help.”

A visit to the dentist’s office on a normal day can easily cost $400 to $500, Bennett says.

“In today’s society, there are people living paycheque to paycheque,” she said. “With gas going up, rent going up, people don’t have anything extra to come to the dentist, which can be very expensive.”

Nikola Mathieson and her daughter, Brandie Chodzinski, got in line for a filling this morning around 8 a.m.

“I think this is really amazing,” Mathieson said. “I’ve never heard of an event like this before. It’s really great for the community.”

She says it’s hard to find an employer who offers dental benefits, making the free dental day crucial to the health of many.

“I haven’t had my teeth cleaned in seven years,” Chodzinski said. “Even for people who do have coverage, a lot of times, it’s very minimal.”

Mathieson and Chodzinski thank Georgian Dental for the opportunity, and for providing drinks and snacks to those in line.

Doug and Lynne Downard are two local seniors who were in line this morning to get their teeth checked.

“This event is very needed, especially for pensioners,” Doug said.

“We have no dental coverage at all with our pension,” Lynne added. “Nobody does anything for seniors.”

Doug says he and his wife paid into a pension for 45 years and have got nothing out of it.

“They (the government) do a lot for everyone else, except the people who need it most,” he said.

The Downards are appreciative of Georgian Dental for taking the initiative and they hope to see other businesses run similar offers for people in need.


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