First of its kind dental clinic targeting low-income families, individuals opens in London, Ont.
3 years in the making, the Wright Clinic finally opens its doors to patients this week
A new low-cost dental clinic has opened its doors in London, Ont., this week after three years in the making.
The Wright Clinic launched to provide accessible dental care for those who face barriers such as income or housing insecurity in London.
The affordable dental clinic is funded primarily through donations and community grants and will operate out of the Glen Cairn Community Resource Centre at 244 Adelaide St. South.
"Many Londoners suffer from pain, discomfort, and loss of opportunity because of poor oral health and inequitable access to dental care due to income," said Lara Timler, London Community Dental Alliance (LCDA) member and professor at Fanshawe College.
Timler said the project will provide equity in access to oral health care for London's most marginalized community members.
"Those with the highest levels of oral health problems are also those with the greatest difficulty accessing dental care. We also know that poor oral health is directly linked to poor health overall."
Ken Wright, founder of the Dental Outreach Community Service (DOCS) Program at Western University's Schulich School of Medicine, said he is "so proud" of what the clinic has accomplished and hopes this will set an example for other communities across Canada.
Wright, who is also the LCDA board chair and leader of the project, said the goal was to establish a permanent outreach clinic that would operate five days a week and serve individuals and families who otherwise may not be able to afford dental care.
Wright said the clinic is the first of its kind in Ontario, with a similar model in Montreal.
"There are outreach clinics in Ontario, some of which I've visited myself," Wright said. "Many of them operate on a strictly volunteer basis, which is wonderful but to do that, some of them only operate only in the evenings or on the weekends."
"We wanted to establish a permanent one that would run five days a week, have a permanent core staff, and be supported by volunteers from the various professions as well."
There will be a minimal fee for services at the clinic that are not covered under Ontario Works, the Ontario Disability Support Program, or the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program.
Wright said the team expects to hold fundraising events yearly to keep the clinic operating. Since the project first began, it has raised more than half a million dollars from various donors.
The clinic has partnered with multiple organizations and institutions including Fanshawe College, London and District Dental Society and the Middlesex-London Health Unit.
"We believe that everyone has the right to optimal oral health and well-being," said Usha Sedhain, a dentist at the Wright Clinic.
"When we live in a community, we have a responsibility to help that community. As dental professionals, we can help people through health care."
With files from CBC's London Morning