Yellowknife dentist offers free service for patients without insurance

When Adam Dental Clinic ran its first free dentistry day in Yellowknife last year, people lined up at the door half an hour before anyone else had even arrived at the building.

Adam Dental Clinic offering free exams, X-rays, emergency fillings and hygiene work on May 5

Dr. Hassan Adam has worked in Yellowknife for over 30 years and wants to give back to his community. (Kaila Jefferd-Moore/CBC)

When Adam Dental Clinic ran its first free dentistry day in Yellowknife last year, people lined up at the door half an hour before anyone else had even arrived at the building.

More than 70 people showed up that April day, and more than 40 came out to a second free dental session in the fall — with one family driving all the way from Fort Smith, N.W.T., to take advantage of the event, said office manager Alicia Price.

On Saturday, staff hope to see some of those same faces again as they offer free dentistry services for community members without dental insurance, or for those who can't afford to bring their family in for regular checkups.

Registration starts at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and appointments are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Price said the clinic will do exams, X-rays, hygiene work and emergency work like fillings.

But offering free dental services is nothing new for Hassan Adam and his clinic.

"Prior to having a special day, if patients came in and needed work but couldn't afford it … the dentist would do it for free," he said, especially for people in pain.

Adam Dental Clinic on Franklin Road in Yellowknife is hosting its third free dentistry day on May 5. (Kaila Jefferd-Moore/CBC)

Day meant for people without insurance

Those who the clinic did see were simply the ones who chose to speak up about their need for treatment, said Price.

"What about all the patients that don't speak up? The people that have to scrounge together money to be able to bring their family in?" she said. 

"This [free dentistry day] kind of was put out there to broaden it so we could attract people that don't have dental insurance, that just need a basic dental visit."

Adam said his staff volunteers for the day, from dentists to hygienists.

Having everyone there together "makes it very easy for us to take a patient from a checkup to a cleaning to fillings to extractions — whatever they need," said Adam.

And for many staff members, it's fun.

Patients 'grateful' and 'needed our help'

Emma Cameron, a dental assistant, volunteered at her first free dentistry day last fall.

"That was actually the day that I knew I really wanted to work in healthcare for the rest of my life," she said.

New to the job at the time, it gave Cameron a chance to meet patients and see how the care provided by the clinic affected them.

"The type of people we were seeing then really needed our help and were very communicative and grateful for what we were doing," she said. "That really struck a chord with me and made it all worth it."

The clinic runs its free dentistry days twice a year — once in the spring and once in the fall — and foots the bill for all the costs.

With files from Kaila Jefferd-Moore

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