By Anna Fong
Lynn Yancovitch works at the only free dental clinic in Vancouver.
“We have patients who have taken out their own teeth,” said Yancovitch. She started as a volunteer when she heard about the need for dental assistants. She had been working part-time as a certified dental assistant at another clinic.
“The day that I arrived, the coordinator was very depressed because he was having a hard time finding volunteer dentists,” said Yancovitch.
She recalls a story about a man who packed salt around his tooth to numb the area before his extraction. He came to verify he successfully removed the remains of the decayed tooth.
Many patients do not realize there is a place that provides free dental care. Her clinic recruits volunteer dentists and hygienists to provide service. The provincial government pays to run the clinic.
Helping patients heal
“I really believe this clinic is here to help treat patients who are in need and cannot get help elsewhere,” said Yancovitch.
She once helped a patient named Michael who wanted to know if his insurance would cover the cost for his dentures.
Unfortunately, he had already used up his insurance limit but this did not include coverage for a pair of dentures.
“Anyone who has had their teeth out in the last six months are eligible for dentures,” said Yancovitch.
But Michael’s insurance only covered the cost if they were billed within a few months.
Yancovitch made calls to confirm his false teeth would be made in time. She was delighted when Michael came back to thank her with his new haircut and teeth.
“Getting his false teeth was the last part of his healing,” said Yancovitch.
Most of the clinic’s patients live in the Downtown Eastside where there is a high incidence of drug abuse and mental illness.
“If people are relieved of their immediate pain, they will be less likely to turn to drugs,” said Yanocovitch.