Alberta Dental Foundation provides grant to U of A dentistry program

The University of Alberta School of Dentistry will be using some of the $50,000 grant money to operate the School Visit Program.

Alberta Dental Foundation - 25 September 2022

tinka.jpgThe Alberta Dental Foundation has chosen the University of Alberta to be the recipient of this year’s ADF grant. The University of Alberta School of Dentistry will be using some of the $50,000 grant money to operate the School Visit Program.

The School Visit Program busses elementary school students from lower socio-economic areas within Edmonton to receive dental treatment from the dental students and dental hygiene students. One of the recent graduates, Dr. Dan Pham, shares his experience of being one of the students who benefitted from this program as a child. Dr. Ida Kornerup, associate clinical professor and discipline lead pediatric dentistry at the U of A, is supporting the program and her students.

What was your first dental appointment like when you were a kid? How old were you?
My first dental appointment was with my two sisters in 2002 when I was 6 years old at the dentistry building on the U of A campus (20 years ago!). We were part of the “school visit” program, where students from low income schools, who had difficulty in accessing care, were provided free dental care at the School of Dentistry. I'll admit, I don't remember much because of how long ago it was… but I remember my sisters and I were in the waiting room where there were lots of toys and games for everyone to play. We were extremely nervous, but the fun activities they had for us definitely calmed our nerves. I was then welcomed by two dental students, who were very patient and made the entire appointment really fun. I remember looking up to the dental students and thinking that they were really cool. Also, hats off to the students that treated me because I know I must have been a handful!

How did being in the Peds Program impact your life?
I come from an immigrant family, where my parents immigrated to Canada as Vietnamese refugees. Being refugees and starting from scratch with nothing, dental care was not a high priority. My parents were always working long shifts during the day to make ends meet and to ensure that my sisters and I had a roof over our heads and food on the table. Combined with the cost of dental care, it was always hard for my family to afford and find time to schedule a dental appointment. However, the school visit program addressed all these issues. Looking back, the pediatric dental program offered at the UofA both lifted a significant weight off my family's shoulders by addressing a problem that was unintentionally overlooked, and also allowed us to focus on our basic living needs. That being said, the school visit program not only impacted my life, but also my entire family's life and improved it for the better. The Alberta Dental Foundation is always dedicated to improving access to dental care for underserved and low-income Albertans. Please join us in some of our upcoming events!

Can you share your favorite/most memorable moment being involved in the program?
My favorite part of the program that I could remember was the waiting room, where the faculty set up toys and games for us to play with once we arrived. It definitely helped calm my sisters’ and my nerves before receiving treatment.

What is your view of the program now that you are in dentistry? How does it feel to be on the other side of the dental chair?
It definitely feels like my life went in a full circle. It feels surreal that I am now on the other side of the dental chair that I sat in over 20 years ago. The funny thing is that I still have access to my chart and all the treatment that was performed back in 2002. Dr. Ida Kornerup, the discipline lead of the pediatric program, always jokes about the reason why I came back to the University was to seek revenge for the treatment I experienced back when I was a patient - but I can assure you that is not the case! On behalf of my entire family, I am incredibly grateful for the pedodontic program offered at the University of Alberta school of dentistry. It has helped my family and I in ways that I could have never imagined. It makes me proud to graduate from a program that has helped not only my family, but other families in the community that need it the most.

This article was originally published by the Alberta Dental Foundation.