Dentistry: Connecting with community

- November 22, 2012

Dal students at Halifax Connects: Kim Berkers (RDA), Katrina Danielak (DDS2), Christos Papadopoulos (DDS4), Kenneth Nowlan (DDS3). (Provided photo)
Dal students at Halifax Connects: Kim Berkers (RDA), Katrina Danielak (DDS2), Christos Papadopoulos (DDS4), Kenneth Nowlan (DDS3). (Provided photo)

It’s comforting to know that if times get tough, your community will be there to support you.

The fourth incarnation of Halifax Connects took over Citadel High School for a day earlier this month. The event’s mission, according to its Facebook page, is “to provide a day of caring and sharing to those without homes or at risk of being without a home.” At the event, local organizations provide services and information to more than 500 attendees: everything from haircuts and photo IDs, to blood pressure tests and dental assistance.

Ferne Kraglund is a dentist and assistant professor of dentistry at Dalhousie. She’s chair of the Faculty of Dentistry’s outreach ventures, and for this year’s Halifax Connections, she called on the community to help fund dental kits with toothpastes, toothbrushes and floss. Support for the kids came from community dentists as well as through the Faculty’s Oral Health Development Fund.

“The fund is strictly for outreach services, we use this money to provide back to the community,” she says, noting that the fund subsists on donations from company donors and alumni.

It’s the third year that the Faculty of Dentistry has been involved in Halifax Connects, and this year provided 500 dental kits in total.

Dr. Kraglund credited the event’s accessibility with much of its success, and says, “It’s easier to go to different booths than different places across the city, and it’s a really non-threatening way to get people to access these services. It’s fantastic.”

A rewarding experience

A true team effort from the Faculty of Dentistry made the day possible. One of the volunteers was Kenneth Nowlan, a third-year student.

Nowlan says he’d never done community outreach like this before, but thoroughly enjoyed being able to help people of all ages.

“There were a lot of kids that came by and loved being taught a bit about oral hygiene,” he says, adding that he found it particularly important to be able to share more about the services offered by the Faculty.

“I found it really rewarding because a lot of people weren’t aware of the facilities that we offer and that [our services are] at a reduced rate, about 50 per cent of what you’d get at a private practice. As well, a lot of people really had no idea that we have an emergency clinic here.”

Dalhousie students have proven more than willing to lend a hand. Dr. Kraglund said that when seeking volunteers, the only setback she has faced was always receiving too many responses.

“Our students are always asking to do something for the community. They’re very outgoing, community-based people.”


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