Another successful summer at the Faculty of Dentistry’s Summer Clinic

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Summer Clinic

By Alexandra Rabalski

McGill’s Faculty of Dentistry’s Summer Clinic has helped nearly one thousand patients receive free dental care this summer.

Each year the third year dental students spend the month of July in the Faculty’s Undergraduate Teaching Clinic for the Summer Clinic. The clinic is entirely dedicated to treating physically and intellectually disabled youth and adults, as well as adolescents that are no longer covered under provincial dental coverage. The objectives of the clinic are two-fold, it allows the students to become familiar with the needs and methods of treatment of these vulnerable populations along with providing much needed care for patients whom are often overlooked in the traditional system.

“The Summer Clinic is helping people that would otherwise have no access to dental care,” said Dr. Alexandra Carella, DMD 2014, this year’s head instructor. “The whole experience is rewarding to students, staff and patients.” Carella is one of six dentists and numerous support staff that devote their time to teaching the dental students and guaranteeing top quality care during the Summer Clinic.

The Summer Clinic is one part of the Community Outreach Program that the Faculty operates and has been treating vulnerable community members since its inauguration to the curriculum in the ‘70s. This year was particularly exciting as it marked the first time the program operated at the newly relocated facility at 2001 McGill College. The new facility offers easier access and allows for an increased number of patients to be treated.

Dr. Jeffrey Myers, Associate Dean Clinical Affairs, oversees the program and ensures it is operating smoothly. “I certainly notice a transition in the students as they mature as clinicians over the month,” says Myers. “I think it’s rewarding for the student to be able to give back to the community in this way.” During the first two weeks of the clinic the focus is on preventative care and the latter two weeks attention shifts to restorative care. Many patients visit the clinic multiple times during the month to complete their treatment plans, all of which are completely free of charge to the patient. Each student sees an average of four patients daily.

In addition to the Summer Clinic, the Faculty of Dentistry runs three other Community Outreach Programs in which services are provided free to a variety of vulnerable groups: the Jim Lund Dental Clinic at Welcome Mission Hall for people in financial difficulty; the Mobile Outreach Clinics in partnership with local community centres; and the Montreal Children’s Hospital Clinic for children of refugees and recent immigrants. The patients from the respective programs come from the most vulnerable communities, including those who are physically and intellectually disabled, homeless, low income families, refugee and recent immigrants and elderly people. The large majority of the funding for all of these community services come from philanthropic donations from a variety of sources, including Foundations, alumni and student fund-raising events.

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