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Are you ready to be a dental hero for your community?
When we think of helping others in need of dental care, our thoughts almost always drift to some remote part of the world where people have low dental IQ and minimal access to anything, let alone dental care.
While many dentists go on international dental missions to provide free dental care for needy people, there is a need in Canada to provide such services. And it is not just in some small towns in the far corners of a province or territory, but also in many big Canadian cities. To this end, a Canadian initiative has been launched by the two dentists to implore dental clinics nationwide extend an Annual Free Dentistry Day (FDD) in their offices to serve their local communities.
In the Annual Free Dentistry Day, the dental office designates a day in each year to provide free dental care for those who cannot access dental care. The dentist and his/her team will pick a day, typically a Saturday, when the whole team will volunteer their time to provide those in need with basic dental care- an extraction, a filling or a cleaning. The patient gets to choose one free service.
The FDD initiative has many benefits for your community, your team, your personal fulfillment and for dentistry as a whole!
Make your community a better place to live
Being able to help those in your community who cannot afford dental care is a true blessing. Every patient who comes in during the free day is very appreciative of this free service. Many patients have been suffering for months, and would continue to suffer if not for pro bono dentistry. For some patients, simply getting their teeth cleaned or a broken tooth repaired, does wonder to their image, self-esteem and confidence and gives them a more positive outlook on life.
Many team members state that working for an employer who cares and gives back elicits a great feeling. Your dental team will get a huge energy boost when they can actively give back to their community. The positive feelings in your office will last for weeks after your free day and leave everyone feeling both grateful and blessed. The team seems to get tighter and tighter every time the free day is held.
This high morale translates into happier and more productive team members. It also makes team members feel loyal to their dental office and see themselves a source of benefit to their community.
Good PR for Dentistry and your Dental Office
Whether we like it or not, dentistry does not always generate positive feelings among the public. Holding a free day enhances PR to our profession and promotes the status of your office as a positive force in the community.
Your dental office will stand out among the crowd as one that truly cares about its community and actively shows it by providing free dental care to those who need it.
Every free dentistry day you conduct motivates other members of the profession to volunteer with you, be it dentists, hygienists or assistants. This is a great way to work with people whom you would otherwise not have the opportunity. Many business partners will also pitch in, donating dental supplies and sundries for use during the free day. Neighboring businesses also donate food and pizza for those waiting in line to get free dental care.
So how do you start a Free Dentistry Day Initiative in your office?
Choose a date for the FDD. Keep in mind that people may line up outside the office for hours on end waiting for their turn, so it is advisable to choose a warmer time of the year, typically summer or fall. It is also preferable to have it on a weekend day, as it is easier for the professionals to volunteer and the patients to come.
Get your team excited about FDD. Share with them your vision for helping those-in-need and doing something exemplary for your community. Share with them research that links volunteering with improved long-term health and longevity. You will also need to have a few more volunteers to act as runners, to help patients fill the medical history forms and to help with charting. Reach out to families of your team members. You may also want to reach out to other dental professionals in your community to volunteer with you at your FDD.
Engage community partners to publicize your FDD. Contact your local food bank, community centers and places of worship and tell them about your event and ask them to put up your posters. Also, send the event info to www.freedentistryday.ca and it will be added to the list of upcoming FDD locations, thus better publicizing your event.
Contact your dental supplier and ask them to donate some sundries for the event. Contact the representative of the company that supplies you with toothbrushes/ toothpaste etc. and ask them to donate some supplies and goodie bags for the patients you expect to serve on that day.
Decide what services you will offer: an extraction, a filling a cleaning or more. Typically, the patient will be allowed to choose one free service. If you would like to provide denture repair, for example, contact your lab technician and invite them to volunteer with you on the FDD.
Arrive early on the day of the FDD and convene a morning meeting and go over the flow of the day. Discuss where potential hiccups may happen and try to avert them before they do. Decide who will greet the patients, how to manage the lineup, and how to triage the patients prior to starting treatment.
Bring snacks for the volunteers. Also, consider providing some snacks and entertainment for the patients in the line. Patients may have to wait in line up to 6 hours. You may bring a balloon artist and a face painter to keep people entertained.
Have fun treating those in need and enjoy all the smiles created that day!
Send a group picture of your team, the number of patients treated and the value of dental services rendered to www.freedentistryday.ca to celebrate your achievements. Get posted on our social media accounts and help us reach the goal of One Million dollars of donated dental services in the shortest possible time.