Saanich dentist Dr. Ross Crapo is participating in Dentistry from the Heart once again this year.

Free dental care fills ‘great need’

Four dentists donate their services for annual program

Dr. Ross Crapo is accustomed to dealing with people in physical pain.

But as he prepares for an annual free day of dentistry at his practice, Crapo is reminded of the emotional scarring he often discovers at his operating chair.

“We see situations where folks have got more life than they have money left,” said Crapo, who along with Dr. Win Nyugen, Dr. Peter Liem and Dr. Michael Bennett will donate their time to Dentistry from the Heart at Crapo’s office tomorrow.

The philanthropic program began 13 years ago in Florida and has since grown to include more than 200 dental practices across North America.

Some staff donate their time, while other expenses like sterilization and the cost of fillings and X-rays are incurred by the practice.

“Most of the time, we’re helping people in pain, who have been living with this pain for a long time,” Crapo said. “And it’s something that’s become emotional for them as well.”

Last year, Crapo and his team treated about 80 patients, and they hope to increase that number on Saturday. The program provides reprieve for people who otherwise can’t afford out-of-pocket medical expenses, which recent StatsCan numbers show is a growing demographic across the country.

Medical expenses like prescription drugs, insurance premiums and dental care have increased significantly in Canada between 1997 and 2009, according to StatsCan.

Out-of-pocket health-care expenses for low-income Canadians rose by 63 per cent during that period after being adjusted for inflation. An average low-income resident now doles out $380 per person annually on dental care. Crapo’s staff are scheduling patients for morning, while afternoon appointments are on a first-come, first-served basis. “We’ll take as many people as we can,” he said. “It’s open to everyone who needs help.”

The event runs all day, beginning at 9 a.m. For more information, call Crapo’s office at 250-383-3368.

– Daniel Palmer

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

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