In recognition of the financial hardships many Manitobans currently face, dentists have banded together to create oral health kits.
The kits include a toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss, which are being handed out free of charge to those in need.
Organized by the Manitoba Dental Foundation, approximately 150 kits have been distributed in Brandon through Big Brothers Big Sisters, Brandon Access Exchange Service and the Brandon Friendship Centre.
It’s an important effort any time, but of even greater relevance during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Todd Kruk said.
"People are busy, people are holding tight — staying home as ordered — and that’s led to fewer people going for routine checkups or getting that problem checked," he said.
The other side of the coin is people who can no longer afford dental care.
"They’ve lost their job, their business has closed, so I think people start cutting back there."
A board member and regional representative for the foundation, Kruk is also a dentist at the Keystone Dental Centre in Brandon.
Various health measures, including things like face shields, masks, increased reliance on hand washing and office air quality have been undertaken — "All things to keep our clients and patients safe, because we certainly don’t want to be a vector for the disease," Kruk said.
To his knowledge, there haven’t been any outbreaks at dental centres, despite the oral cavity being a hot spot for the virus. This, he said, is a testament to the measures undertaken.
At the Keystone Dental Centre, he said staff members have all "settled into the new groove."
Despite public messaging about staying home during the pandemic, Kruk said people shouldn’t put off receiving the oral care they need. Like other areas of health care, it’s essential.
"It’s just important that people keep up — we want everyone to keep themselves healthy in as many ways as possible as we get through this," he said.
"I just encourage everyone to make sure they brush and floss their teeth and take care of their oral health because we all want to smile at the end of this."
The Manitoba Dental Foundation has raised more than $135,000 for charities since its inception in 2015
The effort, led by Manitoban dentists and bolstered by various fundraisers, has a mandate to positively impact the oral health of the under-served and to support community programs.
For more information about the foundation and how to get involved, visit their website online at manitobadentalfoundation.ca.
» Twitter: @TylerClarkeMB