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Thompson Okanagan Dental Society opens wide with donation to Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release
 
dexterStudents at Okanagan College are getting an advanced appreciation of dental radiology, thanks to a generous donation from the Thompson Okanagan Dental Society.
 
Through its annual silent auction, the group raised $10,488.28, and donated the funds to the College’s Certified Dental Assistant program to purchase a highly specialized dental x-ray trainer.
 
“This provides a tremendous opportunity for the students,” said Catherine Baranow, chairperson of the Certified Dental Assistant department.
 
The $8,800 high-tech DXTTR model is made, in part, from a human jawbone complete with teeth, which enables students to safely x-ray the “patient” while benefiting from seeing true human teeth characteristics.
 
“Our graduates don’t diagnose, but they do need to interpret the information, and this allows them to do that,” Baranow said.
 
The new model arrived last week, marking a big change for students who had been working with an older model that featured plastic teeth. This meant important aspects of the tooth’s structure were absent, and therefore couldn’t be viewed in the x-ray.
 
“Dexter,” as the students call it, has quickly become the star patient, complete with his slightly crooked teeth and other anomalies.
 
“Until now, we haven’t been able to see the actual bone and the layers of the teeth,” said 19-year-old Janelle O’Rourke, one of 23 students now working with Dexter. “The model shows the facial landmarks as well. It’s a lot easier to see things.”
 
Gayle Faigan, fundraising chair with Thompson Okanagan Dental Society (TODS), appreciates how important it is for students to learn with the most advanced training equipment available.
 
"As technology changes there can be a disconnect between learning institutions and clinical practice. This presents a challenge for the program to stay current," said Faigan. "By supporting the dental assistant program in this manner, students are better equipped and trained to enter the workforce. The dental community is very supportive of initiatives like this that promote clinical quality and service."
 
The society’s fundraising event is done with volunteer staff support from Scotiabank, which last week topped up the donation by another $5,000.
 
“Our business and professional banking team works closely with many dentists in the Thompson Okanagan so it’s a natural fit for us to partner in the charitable works they are involved with,” said Gladys Fraser, Scotiabank branch manager in Kelowna. “We strongly believe in giving back to the community.”
 
Baranow said news of these additional funds mean more equipment can be purchased to enhance the program even further.
 
“We are tremendously grateful for the support we’ve received from both TODS and Scotiabank,” Baranow said.
 
Kathy Butler, executive director of Okanagan College Foundation, said donations such as these enrich the student experience in meaningful ways well beyond the classroom.
 
“For students in the Certified Dental Assistant program, this donation means they will be entering the workplace with not only highly technical and relevant skills, but a raised level of confidence,” she said. “We appreciate that the community thinks of us when they take the time the raise funds.”
 
TODS has built a long-standing relationship with Okanagan College through its provision of an annual bursary. TODS works to provide professional development for its members in the interest of improving the health of the public.
 
Since 2005 the TODS fundraising initiative has donated more than $85,000 to various dental related organizations such as the Gospel Mission Dental Clinic, the Dental Unit at the BC Cancer Agency Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins Centre for the Southern Interior Dental Unit, Rotaplast Canada and other non profit community dental clinics and initiatives.