From Tuesday, May 21 to Tuesday, May 28, Vancouver Community College’s (VCC) on-campus dental clinic opened its doors to hundreds of children from across the Lower Mainland during the 13th annual Tooth Trolley.
During this year’s event, VCC’s certified dental assistant (CDA), dental reception coordinator, and dental hygiene students and instructors welcomed 315 pre-registered children from 15 local schools for free dental checkups, preventive services, and oral health education.
Traditionally held over four days at the end of May, this year’s Tooth Trolley was expanded to six days in order to allow for greater participation. In total, over $45,000 in dental care was provided.
“It’s heartbreaking to see how many children are in need but never have an opportunity to seek dental care in a safe and fun environment,” says VCC Dental Clinic coordinator Ling Lo Yan. “Extending the program also allowed our students to have a greater number of patient experiences before starting their practicums.”
In addition to offering free checkups, VCC’s Tooth Trolley also aims to reduce children’s anxiety about dental care. The day is filled with fun and positivity, starting with a morning ride on an old-fashioned Vancouver Trolley Company bus, followed by appointments with VCC’s “tooth fairies,” and finishing with educational activities and crafts, and a healthy snack.
"The attitude changes we see are sometimes quite transforming,” says Ling, highlighting one particular patient who had avoided dental care for many years due to past experiences, but felt safe coming with classmates. “She was very happy throughout the whole appointment,” says Ling. “This is the kind of transformation we are striving for.”
The 2019 Tooth Trolley was made possible thanks to enthusiastic participation by the Vancouver Trolley Company, and through generous donations by lead sponsor, Chevron, with a $30,000 gift, and Telus with a $15,000 gift.
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