To participate, a dental office chooses one day a year to provide free dental care for those who can't otherwise access such care. Once the dental team selects the day (typically on a weekend) they can choose to provide one free basic dental care service to each patient—either an extraction, a filling or a cleaning.
Are you ready to be a dental hero for your community?
The Free Dentistry Day initiative is one where a dental office chooses one day a year to provide free dental care for those in need who can’t otherwise access dental care. The dentist and his/her team will pick a day, typically a Saturday, where 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!
So how do you start a Free Dentistry Day Initiative in your office?
At least 12 weeks in advance, choose a date to have the FDD. Keep in mind that there may be people lining up outside your office for hours waiting for their turn, so it's preferable to choose a warmer time of year, typically summer or fall. It's preferable to have it on a weekend as it is easier for many of the potential patients to make it during a weekend day.
Once you’ve chosen your date, get your team excited about FDD. Share with them your vision for helping those in need and doing something unique and needed for your own community. Share with them research that links improved long term health and greater longevity for those that volunteer. Get them motivated to volunteer their time for your FDD. 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 family of your team members. Or check with local high schools for students looking for volunteer hours. You may also want to reach out to other dental professionals in your community to volunteer with you at your FDD.
At least 10 weeks in advance, order team t-shirts for everyone to wear on your FDD. Everyone who comes to volunteer on your FDD wears and keeps their shirt. Make sure to order plenty of every size!
Approximately 6 weeks in advance, create some posters flyers promoting your FDD. Engage community partners to help freedentistrydayize your FDD. Think of contacting your local food bank, community centers, schools and places of worship to tell them about your event and put up posters. If your local by-law permits, think about placing a roadside sign outside your clinic. Also, once you have chosen the date of your FDD, send the event info to www.freedentistryday.ca and it will be added to the list of upcoming FDD locations, thus better freedentistrydayizing your event.
Contact your dental supplier to see if they are willing to donate some sundries for the event. Contact your representative of the company you get your toothbrushes/ toothpaste etc. from and see if they can donate some supplies to have a goodie bag for each patient your service. Make sure your goodie bags are prepared in advance of your FDD to avoid the last minute rush!
Decide which services you want to offer. Typically, the patient can choose one free service: an extraction, a filling or a cleaning. If you would like to provide other services, for example denture repair, contact your lab technician and see if they can volunteer with you on the FDD.
One week before your FDD, have a team meeting to firm up your details and what is expected from everyone. This allows time to implement any last minute ideas you or your team may have and also to ensure everyone knows what their rolls are.
Arrive early on the day of the FDD so you and your team can get set up for the day. Make sure everyone has a team t-shirt, set up your community event tent if you have one, and have a morning meeting to 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. It is advisable to have extra blood pressure cuffs on hand.
Bring snacks for theteam members who arevolunteering (water, fruit,and muffins). You should have lunch brought in for them as well. Usually pizza is an easy choice so people can eat as they have time. Also consider having some snacks and entertainment for the patients in line. We have patients wait in line up to 6 hours till their turn arrives. We usually bring a balloon artist, a face painter and a magician to keep people entertained. We also have our local Tim Hortons provide free coffee and tea for everyone present. And we have had our local grocery store provide granola bars, bottles of water and fruit for the patients in line.
Have fun treating those in need and enjoy all the smiles created that day!
Send a group picture of your team members, the number of patients treated and the dollar amount of dental services donated to www.freedentistryday.ca to celebrate your achievements, be posted on our social media accounts and help us reach the goal of One Million dollars of donated dental services!
Outside Lineup Management
Ensure the people managing your outside lineup are outgoing and comfortable with crowds. There will be quite a few people in line for most of the day so they will need to keep the crowd under control and happy. You also want to ensure you have a registration process that is easy to follow.
Typically we use a deck of playing cards. We use spades and clubs for dental treatment and hearts and diamonds for hygiene. On the registration forms we write down the card number and suit. Registration forms are handed out on a first come first serve basis. When the forms are handed back in, they are sorted by card number so the people who are in line first would be registered first regardless if they are slower at filling out the form.
At the top of each registration form we attach a form we use for screening patients with possible contraindications.
Please check with your individual provincial regulatory body for your own list of medical concerns to screen out.
Below are some examples of possible contraindications with treatment.
- Are you currently taking blood thinners
- Have you had a stroke in the last 6 months.
- Have you had a knee/hip replacement in the last 2 years
- Have you had a heart attack in the last month
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, the patient is asked to advise the outside team before filling out the rest of their medical questionnaire. They are then referred to a member of our clinical team who will evaluate the form and discuss with the patient whether they are a candidate for FDD
If the answer to all of these questions is no, the registration form is then brought to the Administrative team to be entered into the computer and queued up for triage.
Have a dedicated member for dental treatment and a dedicated member for hygiene data entry. Once a patient’s basic information is entered into the system, they are queued for triage. When the patient has been cleared for treatment by the triage team, they are given an appointment time in the scheduler.
It is a good idea to have a hygiene triage team and a dental triage team. This will expedite your triage process. The dental triage room should be an operatory with x-ray availability. The triage team will take the patient’s blood pressure, make note of medical issues and current medications, take x-rays if required, and go over the informed consent form. There should also be a photo release on your consent form so that you may take photos throughout the day. Once the patient has been triaged, they may continue on to the appropriate treatment room or back to the waiting room to wait for their appointment time.
Your runners and other volunteers are there to keep the flow going smoothly. They can seat patients, help with charting, keep snack tables stocked, hand out goodie bags, liaison between all other teams, or just about anything else you need them to do. Be clear in your instructions to them and be appreciative at all times. They are there to help you!!