TORONTO — The Alpha Omega Fraternity’s Toronto alumni chapter is seeking dentists who will go the extra mile.
The dental fraternity is looking for volunteers for its program that provides pro bono services such as fillings, cleaning, some surgical procedures and dentures for clients of Jewish Family & Child who are on social assistance, such as Ontario Works or long-term disability.
Daniel Pollit, an orthodontist who runs the volunteer program, said that up until 15 years ago, volunteers used to work out of Baycrest, but now dentists work out of their own offices, using their own tools and materials.
Eric Kirsh, supervisor of financial assistance and rehabilitation at JF & C, said social assistance offers some basic dental care, but not all dentists will accept referrals.
“Our goal is to connect our clients with dentists in the Alpha Omega program who will perform services that go beyond those covered by Ontario Works.
Kids under 18 and the elderly have access to dentists through public health, he said, but the fraternity serves those in between.
“These are people who have no funds,” Kirsh said.
He said that he sees clients who haven’t received dental care for a good part of their lives. “Most of us take dental care for granted, but these clients don’t see dentists at all. It is the last thing they think about, until they are in pain.”
When the mouth isn’t healthy, he said, it can affect a person’s overall health.
Pollit said his group tries to connect JF&C clients to dentists in a convenient location for them, and if money is tight, it offers gas or taxi money. “We want to make it as easy as possible for them to get to the dentist.”
He said the fraternity gets donations, but the bulk of the money goes toward service that require a laboratory fee, such as dentures. “The dentists volunteer their time, and any costs are covered by the fraternity.”
Ian Braverman, fraternity president, said that with about 700 members, they are one of the largest chapters in the world.
“We solicit volunteers once a year, and the number of volunteers varies from 60 to 90. The program is easier to run if we have more dentists available. We like to have a few dentists in reserve in case of emergency.”
Kirsh said he gets a lot of positive feedback from his clients. “The dentists don’t stigmatize them, and the patient’s confidentiality is protected. The volunteers need to be commended.”
Dentists who want to volunteer can call Pollit at 416-491-1337.