Sourires Solidaires, a pediatric community dental clinic in Laval, opened its doors last February. Their mission: to offer personalized dental care for all children, regardless of their socio-economic status or the nature of their needs. Laval Families Magazine met with the founders, Farid Amer-Ouali and Tasnim Alami-Laroussi, to shed light on the issue of accessible dental care and how they are working hard to improve it.

It’s estimated that in Canada, one third of day surgeries for children between the ages of one and five years old are for cavities. In 2013, approximately 5000 children under the age of 10 in Quebec were treated under general anesthesia for their dental needs. What’s more, 65 % of young patients on the Autism spectrum aren’t receiving care from a dentist. 83 % of parents whose children are on the spectrum find it difficult to brush their child’s teeth due to a lack of cooperation related to sensory challenges.

Even though Quebec’s public health insurance (RAMQ) covers, among other treatments, the annual cleaning, cavity treatments and emergency dental care for children under the age of 10, not all of these families have access to a dentist, or the care needed for the maintenance of good dental health. This is why Dr. Amer-Ouali and Dr. Alami-Laroussi set out to create the first pediatric  community dental clinic in Quebec, Sourires Solidaires.

“Social dentistry means taking care of the patient in a holistic way, taking into consideration social, economic and cultural factors. We believe that this is how we can offer quality care that is adapted to the needs of the patient,” explains Dr. Amer-Ouali. “The most important aspect is to include the patient in the treatment and ensure that he/she participates in the decision-making. This will create a bigger impact in the long term.”

Registered as a non-profit organization, Sourires Solidaires has attracted numerous financial partners and donors, which has enabled them to acquire various equipment for the clinic. In addition, adding to the financial assistance offered by supporters, members of the comité de coordination des ressources publiques (CCRP) of the City of Laval awarded the clinic a grant of $140 000 for the development of adapted care programs dedicated to all children including those with special needs.

Now that the clinic is open, Dr. Amer-Ouali and Dr. Alami-Laroussi are striving to offer more services for vulnerable patients. Overall, their dream is that all children in Laval can experience a positive visit to the dentist. With this idea in mind, they invite more partners to support their initiative. In the longer-term vision, Dr. Amer-Ouali and Dr. Alami-Laroussi would like to make their clinic’s model and services reproducible, so that similar clinics can see the light of day across Quebec.

A smile represents well-being, an emotion: a smile always brings positivity to the one smiling as well as the one the smile is intended for. Most of all, a smile is even more powerful when it represents solidarity.