Making smiles count for children

Health | April 9, 2015

Providing oral care is only the first step to a happy smile and a healthy community.

In British Columbia’s capital city of Victoria, close to 50,000 people are hard pressed to afford basic necessities. According to a UBC Faculty of Dentistry study, families that “struggle constantly to make ends meet have little money or time to spend on dental treatment.”

It’s unfortunate that dentistry is so expensive that it must be a secondary consideration for low-income families. However, it’s extraordinary to see an organization, such as Oral Care for Children and Adolescents Dental Clinic Society (ORCCA), answer the call of an important cause within our community. ORCCA is the first not-for-profit dental clinic serving children and adolescents from low-income families on Vancouver Island, and we’re proud to be one of the first organizations to support them on their journey to elevate self-confidence through improved oral health.

“The $20,000 community grant that ORCCA received from the Victoria Community Board will enable us to buy necessary dental equipment to provide these essential oral health services to deserving children.”

Heather Burkett


B.C. provides $700 per year for children accessing the Healthy Child Program (family income must be less than $21,000 a year) and there are partial benefits for First Nations children, however, often a minimum standard of care or preventative treatment such as braces are not covered. These children and those with a family income under $40,000 a year, but with no dental insurance would benefit from this program. Thanks to ORCCA, as many as 500 children qualify for this service and they plan to see about 200 children as its operation gears up this year.

For ORCCA Vice-Chair Dr. Mitra Hashemi, this is a big thing. Her inspiration came from interacting with children who were experiencing real life challenges due to dental issues. “You can imagine for a teenager how much it can impact and affect their self-confidence,”says Dr. Hashemi . She describes one teen in particular who was unable to find work:“his front teeth were badly broken, and he couldn’t afford to fix them. He was struggling to get even a basic level entry job. Thats what holds people back in life and in their careers, they don’t have a starting point. And, this is why I wanted to help.” It was stories like this that inspired Dr. Hashemi and her friend Heather Burkett to create and organization capable of making dentistry available for all children.

“As much as we try to separate medical and dental needs, the fact is they are totally connected and that’s where neglect begins.”

Dr. Mitra Hashemi

ORCCA Vice Chair

The organization provides more than just dental care. They are committed to ensuring those children and youth who visit the dental office get an education on brushing, flossing and how to maintain a healthy mouth. But most importantly, they are making a real difference and touching hundreds of lives by helping youth to smile with confidence.