Vital People: Cool Aid Dental Clinic puts smiles on faces

Vital People: Cool Aid Dental Clinic puts smiles on faces

Tabitha Kostyra went to the Cool Aid Dental Clinic for a chipped tooth.

“I don’t mind the dentist,” Kostyra says. “I just don’t like the needles!”

Kostyra says she is just happy to be at the dentist at all, because she wouldn’t have been able to get her tooth fixed if it wasn’t for the Cool Aid Dental Clinic.

“It’s just too much for me to afford,” she says.

The clinic — which has been making a difference since 1972 — provides dental services for people who receive ministry coverage and has reduced rates for people who are on a fixed or low income.

“A lot of people don’t have the means to pay for dental treatment,” explains Cool Aid Dental Clinic manager Kathleen Quast. “We offer patients without any type of insurance a reduction on the current fee guide and so for a lot of people, it’s 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’re the only not-for-profit [clinic] on Vancouver Island so we are very busy,” Quast says.

The clinic sees 25 to 30 patients a week and the need is so great, appointments are being booked at least two to three months out.

But there are also six walk-in appointments each day, since many people can’t wait for treatment.

“We do have to turn people away because we can only accommodate so many patients a day, a week, a month so ideally, there would be more clinics like Cool Aid on the Island,” Quast explains.

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

“The system needs to change, people that 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 thankful she was able to get in.

“I think they’re making a great big difference in the community here and I hope they keep going with it because if this place shuts down, I don’t know what people would do,” Kostyra says.

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

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