June 17, 2014

Helping the Homeless Smile

Health researchers now know that people who live in homeless shelters or on the streets long-term have comparable life expectancies to people in developing countries. One of the issues that can impact our overall health is proper dental care. Unfortunately, many people dealing with homelessness don’t have accessible, professional dental services.

Thanks to the initiative of Ottawa dentist Dr. Tom Harle, The Ottawa Mission has been able to offer emergency, preventative, and restorative dental care to people in shelters for the past 7 years. Dr. Harle worked with The Mission to open a small dental clinic inside The Ottawa Mission. He then reached out to his colleagues in the dental field to recruit dozens of volunteers to help run it.

That small clinic is now seeing an average of 77 patients every month and what’s more, about 100 dental professionals, including about 50 dentists, volunteer time every month. Many dental supplies and lab services are either donated by dental offices or funded through community donations.

The Ottawa Mission’s Dental Clinic is truly a community effort and the before and after pictures of patients make everyone smile.