Edmonton clinics give entire day’s income to charity with ‘Dentistry for a Cause’

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WATCH ABOVE: Going to the dentist can sometimes make people squirm. But what if it was for a good cause? An Edmonton dental clinic is making the experience a little more bearable - by giving back. Julia Wong has more on Dentistry for a Cause.

An Edmonton dental clinic was bustling with patients on Sunday as the second annual Dentistry for a Cause clinic got underway.

The initiative at Dentists at Northgate, which started last year, involves clinic staff volunteering their time and the practice donating the cost of all patients’ insurance billings to local and overseas initiatives. This year, the event has expanded from two clinics to 11 across the city, region and into B.C.

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“A hundred percent of what we bill goes to charity,” said Dr. Rustom Appoo, who started the event. “We don’t take out anything for overhead.”

Locally, Dentistry for a Cause has supported organizations such as Little Warriors and the Stollery Childrens Hospital; internationally, the initiative raised enough money last year to build an orphanage for 12 children in Gudimalla, India.

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“[I was] born there, so it’s near and dear to my heart,” Dr. Appoo said.

“It’s a great feeling to know you’re changing people’s live and if any of those orphans can get through, get a little bit of education, we get them off the streets, when they have kids… [it] feels like it can change generations of lives to come.”

Dr. Appoo, 45, has been a dentist for 18 years and has worked at the practice for 11 years. He said the event raised roughly $32,000 in 2017; this year, he is hoping to raise $100,000, an increased goal due to the increase in clinics involved.

The clinic did a free dentistry day a few years ago, but Dr. Appoo ultimately changed the scope of the event because he said he wanted to make a bigger impact.

“We are blessed to be able to live in this part of the world. We’ve got lots of the essentials — food, water, shelter. Everyone that works here has lots of that. We just want to give back.”

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Dr. Emanuel Moreira started working at the clinic in July 2017; this is his first year being involved in the fundraiser. But he said he has heard a lot about it, ranging from the topic being discussed during his job interview and then with fellow staff.

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Dr. Moreira said the atmosphere at the practice was different Sunday during the event than it is during a normal workday.

“Everything we are doing here — we are going to collect funds and help other people,” he said.

“Everybody is very happy, very motivated and we are doing as much as we can.”

The work done on patients ranged from regular cleanings to treating toothaches and infections.

Patient Marcelo Leonardo, 45, came into the clinic Sunday not knowing the event was happening, but said he enjoyed being a part of it.

“I’m so happy with this dentist group because their hearts are open and they are very willing to extend some help to others,” he said.

The event is expected to become an annual tradition.