Supporting dental health through music

Supporting dental health through music

Tunes for Teeth allows patrons to both enjoy live music and support Vernon’s low-income residents

  • Apr. 5, 2017 6:30 a.m.

A local benefit concert gives patrons the opportunity to both enjoy some live music and support Vernon’s low-income residents.

Now in its fifth year, the Tunes for Teeth fundraiser and silent auction takes place Saturday and is hosted by the non-profit Community Dental Access Centre (CDAC), and featuring Vernon musicians, including bluesman Sherman Doucette, R&B group Kath and the Tomkats, pianist Henry Piovesan, and pianist Brandon Schmor.

The largest fundraiser for the CDAC, Tunes for Teeth originally began with musicians willing to donate time to help the cause. However, ticket sales prior to the event have been low this year, with little money being made.

“We really need people to come to the event to show their support,” said Laine Lowe, community dental hygienist and member of the board of directors of the CDAC.

“(People) don’t really understand that there are people with nothing.”

After opening its doors in September 2012, the centre seeks to provide dental care to those who can’t afford it on their own.

“With my job, I see the lack of access to care,” said Lowe, adding that one third of Vernon’s population doesn’t seek, or can’t afford, dental care.

“They have to choose between groceries and dental.”

With the implementation of new technology comes the skyrocketing costs associated with dental care, making it more difficult for low-income families.

“Technology is fantastic, but it’s very expensive,” said Dr. Victor Lepp, president CDAC’s board of directors.

Unfortunately, this causes those in need to go to the hospital, where doctors prescribe pain medication instead of removing the problem.

“We have people coming to us with multiple abscesses with nowhere to go,” said Lowe.

And it’s not only the working class that are seeking help.

About 25 per cent of children in kindergarten have experienced preventable tooth decay due to the lack of access to see a dentist, said Lowe.

“Waiting up to one year (to see a specialist), they have abscesses by the time they get in,” she said.

For children to receive care from CDAC, they must already be on the B.C. Healthy Kids program, except in dire circumstances.

“We have treated some Syrian refugees who were not eligible for the (Healthy Kids) program, but only in urgent need,” said Lowe.

The CDAC plans to utilize new technology to slow down the formation of cavities in children.

“Our mission is to keep children out of the hospital,” she said. “If we can prevent that, it’s a huge bonus.”

However, with new technology comes higher costs.

“It’s hard for us to make ends meet at the clinic,” said Lowe.

To stay afloat, the CDAC puts on fundraising events like Tunes for Teeth to continue to provide care to Vernon’s low-income population.

“People that are in need should be able to access care,” said Lowe.

“They should be able to get out of pain.”

Tunes for Teeth takes place Saturday at Trinity United Church, 3300 Alexis Park Dr. Doors open at 6 p.m., with the concert starting at 7 p.m. The event includes door prizes, a silent auction and refreshments. Tickets are $30, available at the Bean Scene, 2923-30th Ave., downtown Vernon, and at the door.