IH dental hygienist Shawna Gibb shows four-month-old Jordyn Lauze and her mom Stephanie a toothbrush from Central Okanagan Food Bank’s oral health goodie bags, while (left to right) Gayle Faigan of the Thompson-Okanagan Dental Association and Wayne McNiven and Parker Henderson of ScotiaBank look on.—Image credit: Alistair Waters/Capital News

Food banks help with oral health care

Dental association and ScotiaBank step up to help expand oral health program for those in need.

Thanks to a donation from the Thompson-Okanagan Dental Society and Scotia Bank, more families in need will be smiling a little brighter this month.

Each year, in an effort to support the oral health of low-income families and individuals, the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank partners with Interior Health to distribute what it calls an oral health “goodie” bag. The bags contain toothbrushes, dental floss, fluoridated toothpaste and important oral health information.

This year the Thompson-Okanagan Dental Association and Scotia Bank joined in the effort with a donation of $8,500 to help expand the program.

“Many low-income families are unable to afford basic oral hygiene products necessary for optimal health,” said Gayle Faigan, fundraising chairwoman with the Thompson-Okanagan Dental Society. “That is why funding this initiative was an easy decision for us.”

The effort was bolstered by the participation of local Scotia Bank employees who helped fill more than 12,000 bags.

This year, food banks in Ashcroft, Kelowna, West Kelowna, Chase, Lake Country, Lumby, Oliver, Osoyoos, Peachland, Penticton, Revelstoke, Salmon Arm, Sicamous, Summerland and Vernon will benefit from the oral health program.

IH registered dental hygienist Shawna Gibb, who helped initiate the oral health program in 2008 through the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank’s Tiny Bundles program, said the teaching the importance of oral health is vital.

“Dental disease is painful and expensive to treat and can lead to threatening complications and is often preventable,” said Gibb. “It is our goal to provide preventative information, guidance and support.”

Lenetta Parry, executive director of the food bank said she believes the food bank’s role should be to do more than just distribute food, and that is why, during May, her clients will have the opportunity to collect the bags and speak directly to volunteer health care professionals on site at the food bank.

One of the first people to stop by on Friday was Stephanie Lauze,who brought her four-month-old daughter Jordyn.

Lauze said she found the information particularly helpful for dealing with her baby daughter oral health care.

Lauze, who said she also has a 10-year-old, said when her other child was younger this type of free oral health information was not as readily available.

“This is really great,” she said, as her young, smiling daughter played with a toothbrush that when she is older, she will no doubt get to use.