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Opening Doors for Children & Families

A Trip To The Dentist

I am terrified of going to the dentist. I'm sorry all you dentists out there I'm sure you are fine in your personal life but I'm not your biggest fan in your professional life. I blame this fear on my mother (sorry mom.) I can almost hear my mom sigh in a "here we go again..." type sigh. Well this is the thing, when I was a child we went to this dentist in her home. Yes, in her home red flag! I grew up in sort of a remote area in Northern Alberta and there were always periods of time when there was no dentist in our town. I don't remember the specifics of why we were going to this dentist's home but I think it was because she had recently immigrated to Canada and didn't have a Canadian license to practice dentistry. This could be something I completely made up in my mind, my sister says I tend to do that with traumatic (or what I deem as traumatic) childhood memories. Like the time my sister stabbed me in the ribs with a steak knife. But that is a different story which my sister would surely dispute.

As you can imagine, a dentist practicing in her home is ill equipped (basically she had a pair of pliers and a hammer.) From my memory this dentist didn't use freezing (ok maybe she did but it hurt a lot) and she did not have an assistant so my mom had to hold me down in the chair. My mom is a little woman but freakishly strong so this did not seem to be a struggle for her, but struggle did I ever. I would kick and squirm and I would think that if this dentist would have had a way to knock me out she probably would have. But because we were IN HER HOME maybe she was lacking in anesthetic, I don't know.

So imagine the pangs of sympathy I felt when I heard more than one of our Head Start children this year have a mouth full of decayed teeth. We have this amazing team called the Head Start Health Team through Alberta Health Services who screens every Head Start children for hearing, vision, growth and dental. The team is comprised of Registered Nurses and Dental Hygienists. In the 2010-2011 school year a whopping 38%, that's 142 children, attending ABC Head Start had active decay and needed to be referred to a dentist. As I'm sure you are all aware receiving treatment at the dentist is far from free. Even with benefits, most dentists charge over what benefits cover and the fees can be quite high. But our amazing Head Start Health Team tries to seek out dental professionals who will agree to charge families living on limited income a fee that will match their benefits. WHEN and IF they can find these willing dental professionals. This year I hope it works out for these families as the bills for their dental trips could be well over $5000 to get proper dental care (as in, a dentist with a license to practice...in an office...who has access to anesthetic.)

If you would like to offer suggestions for dental care or support to these families please contact our Community Coordinator Ann Babb at annb@abcheadstart.org. To learn more about the services and partners of ABC Head Start visit our website at www.abcheadstart.org. You can also donate to ABC Head Start by clicking "donate now" here or on our website.

With the support of volunteers, ABC Head Start Society is able to support vulnerable children and families throughout the year. Volunteers contribute by sharing their ideas, talents and energy to events, on our Board of Directors and fundraisers, and in providing direct support to children, parents/caregivers and families.