Cool Aid dental clinic puts smiles on faces

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Tabitha Kostyra went to Cool Aid dental clinic for a chipped tooth.

“The dentist doesn’t bother me,” says Kostyra. “I just don’t like needles!”

Kostyra says she is just happy to be at the dentist because she couldn’t have had her tooth fixed without the Cool Aid dental clinic.

“It’s just too much for me,” she said.

The clinic, which has been making a difference since 1972, provides dental services to those covered by the ministry and offers discounted rates for people on fixed or low incomes.

“A lot of people can’t afford dental care,” says Kathleen Quast, director of the Cool Aid Dental Clinic. “We are offering patients without any type of insurance a discount off the current fee guide and so for many people this is the only affordable option for dental care.”

From fillings, extractions and root canals to hygiene and even dentures, the Cool Aid clinic offers a full range of dental services for people who would otherwise fall through the cracks.

“We are the only non-profit organization [clinic] on Vancouver Island, so we’re very busy,” says Quast.

The clinic sees 25 to 30 patients a week and the needs are so great that appointments are made at least two to three months in advance.

But there are also six walk-in appointments every day, as many people cannot wait for treatment.

“We have to turn people away because we can only accommodate a limited number of patients per day, week, month, so ideally there would be more clinics like Cool Aid on the island,” says Quast.

Due to COVID, demand is now higher than ever for these services, which are funded through donations and grants. Fundraising efforts are underway, but Quast says the province also needs to provide more dental care for vulnerable people.

“The system needs to change, people who are in the system need more money for dental care because the need is so high,” Quast says. “They get $1,000 every two years, but it’s not enough, it’s not enough money.”

Kostyra is just grateful to have been able to enter.

“I think they are making a big difference in the community here and I hope they continue because if this place closes I don’t know what people would do,” Kostyra says.

Donations to Cool Aid Dental Clinic can be made online or by calling 250-383-1977.

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