Montreal

Quebec City mobile dentist a hit with seniors, those with reduced mobility

Sarah Gagné does cleanings, extractions and fillings at residences and long-term care facilities for people with reduced mobility.

The private practice on wheels brings dental care services to patients' doors

Dr. Sarah Gagné (left) with her former assistant Myriam Couture (right) doing a home visit. Gagné has been a dentist since 2005, and has been meeting patients in their homes for five years. (Facebook/Clinique Dentaire Mobile)

A Quebec City dentist is looking to hire extra staff to meet the growing demand for her unique services.

Sarah Gagné has been providing in-home dental services to seniors and people with reduced mobility for five years.

She told CBC Radio's Quebec AM she does mostly cleaning, but also provides diagnoses, performs exams and extractions and does fillings at residences and long-term care facilities. The only things she doesn't do are X-rays and orthodontics.

"I just cannot imagine going back into a regular dental office," Gagné said. "I really like the medical practice — it's like a caregiver dental practice."

She said dental offices can be difficult for people with mobility issues because of the long wait times and the added steps of coordinating appointments and transportation to clinics with their CHSLD.

Dental care often neglected 

When people enter long-term care homes, dental hygiene can fall by the wayside as other health issues become priority, and if it is difficult to visit a dentist at their office, Gagné said. Seniors can sometimes give up on their teeth completely.

Gagné said teeth are often not given enough care because they can be seen as separate from the body, but they play a big part in a person's overall health.

"It has an impact on the entire body," she said.

Dr. Sarah Gagné performs dental procedures on patients, travelling with her mobile clinic to their residences and long-term care homes. (Submitted by Sarah Gagné)

​Growing demand and no signs of slowing down

Gagné travels within an hour of Quebec City, to Portneuf, Lévis and Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré — typically trying to spend an entire day at one CHSLD and see patients back-to-back.

She has an assistant, but is looking to hire two more people in the spring to meet the demand.

Gagné said there are unique challenges to serving seniors, like doing cleanings for people with dementia and Alzheimer's.

"It is very hard to treat those people," she said, because "tooth-brushing every day is very difficult." But she's heard from staff at the care homes that patients are calmer after cleanings and other dental procedures.

Gagné uses the same fee scale as other dentists in the province, while charging traveling expenses.

She said she plans to continue the mobile practice for as long as she can.

A Quebec City dentist is bringing oral health directly to people who have a hard time getting to appointments. The clinic provides dental care for people with reduced mobility and the elderly where they live. Sarah Gagné is the dentist behind the mobile clinic and she spoke with Quebec AM guest host Marika Wheeler. 7:57

With files from Quebec AM