North

First private dental clinic opens in Rankin Inlet

The clinic has five staff members, including a dental hygienist. It also has three operatories, two of which are for specialists who will be flown up to the community based on the services that are needed.

A dentist from Winnipeg said he opened the clinic so patients no longer have to wait for months

The Northern Smiles Dental Clinic team in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. (Submitted by Hamza Jafri)

Nunavut's Kivalliq region will have its first private dental clinic open its doors Wednesday.

Hamza Jafri, a dentist from Winnipeg, said he opened the Northern Smile Dental Clinic in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, because he believes the community should be able to access dental services year-round. 

"I had a chance to come to Rankin Inlet back in 2017. I saw the entire region — there is no private dental practice and patients just have to wait for months just to see someone, a dentist flying to the community," Jafri said.

"I just thought that it was about time that the region had a private dental practice where they could come around any time of the year to the dentist … and have the same standard of care that they would expect [in] Toronto or Winnipeg."

Hamza Jafri, a dentist from Winnipeg, said he opened the clinic so patients no longer have to wait for months to see a dentist when they fly into the community. (Submitted by Hamza Jafri)

Jafri said his clinic was supposed to be up and running in February this year, but between COVID-19 and finding the right staff with specific licenses, it was delayed. 

Right now, the clinic has five staff members, including Jafri and his wife, who is the office manager. There's also a dental hygienist along with a receptionist and a dental floater, who were both hired locally. 

Northern Smiles Dental Clinic in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. (Submitted by Hamza Jafri)

The clinic also has three operatories, one of which functions as the hygiene room. The other two are for dentists and specialists, who Jafri said he hopes to fly up to the community based on the specialty services that are needed. 

The clinic has specific guidelines in place for COVID-19 as well, which includes a tracking system for the operatories to make sure there is no contamination through aerosols. 

Jafri said his clinic is swamped by phone calls at the moment, with many patients having booked their appointments a couple weeks in advance and others having to wait. He said he hopes the clinic is able to attend to all community members over the next few months. 

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