Downtown Mission opening dental centre for low-income and homeless people

A new dental centre is opening at the Ouellette Avenue location of the Downtown Mission, offering a range of services for people who can't afford dental care otherwise.

Services will be pay-what-you-can or for free

John Boismier only has four teeth left and didn't think the dental clinic could do much for him. He's since changed his mind. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

There is already a waiting list at the Al Quesnel Community Dental Centre at the Ouellette location of the Downtown Mission — despite it not opening until Thursday.

Local philanthropist Al Quesnel led a community matching challenge and provided over $1 million in funding for the clinic and other initiatives at the mission. The clinic will be staffed by two dental hygienists, two assistants and eventually, a dentist.

"We're really hoping to be able to provide that service for lower costs for people," said Sue Pellerito, a registered dental hygienist who can work without a dentist on-site.

The centre will offer a range of preventative and restorative services, ranging from cleanings to root canal therapy. Dentures and partials may be a possibility down the road as well.

"If somebody's out there and they're thinking, my mouth is too bad, I don't want go, I'm embarrassed," said Pellerito, "Don't be embarrassed, come in. Let us get you to where you need to be."

The dental centre has brand-new equipment. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

One man has already been convinced to go for an exam.

John Boismier hasn't been to the dentist for a very long time and he didn't think he could benefit from the service.

"I only have four teeth left, what are they going to do for me?" he said.

Years ago when he went in for a root canal, he had to pay out of pocket but the tooth ended up falling out due to an infection anyway.

"I didn't trust the dentist anymore," said Boismier. But the staff at the centre convinced him to go in for just a check-up, no tools.

Paul Wayvonko is looking forward to have affordable dental services downtown. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

And for Paul Wayvonko, having the dental centre downtown would really change things for him.

He takes great care of his teeth but going to his dentist on the other side of town isn't always possible.

"It would be great because for me, even if I have to pay a few bucks here and there, it's worth it — because sometimes I don't even have the money for a bus fare," he said.

The phone line for the dental centre will be open starting Thursday. People can call to make appointments.

Pellerito said while they have a couple of prospective out-of-town dentists they may hire, the centre would welcome any Windsor-based dentists who can volunteer their time.

The community has already been incredibly responsive in terms of signing up to volunteer, she said, but they continue to welcome more.

The Al Quesnel Community Dental Centre will be run out of the third floor of Downtown Mission at 875 Ouellette Ave.

With files from Stacey Janzer