A new agreement between McGill University and the Welcome Hall Mission will keep a dental clinic for the uninsured operating and giving free dental care to those in need.

For six years, the Jim Lund Dental Clinic has offered free dental care to the unemployed or those unable to get insurance through work.  Patients are screened according to need and most are also clients of the mission’s food bank.

The new agreement was signed on March 20, which marks World Oral Health Day.

Paul Sweet is the dentist who oversees the program. He said among the patients who have come through the doors, more and more are immigrants or refugees, some of whom haven’t had proper dental care in years.

“Some cultures don’t have the same philosophies or approaches that we do here in North America,” he said. “A lot of the cases they have had subpar or unregulated dental care in foreign countries.”

Patient Oleg Chalyi came to Quebec from Ukraine two years ago. While he works, he said he doesn’t have enough money to see a dentist.

“It’s very expensive for me,” he said. “That’s why I decided to come to this clinic.”

Patients are seen by students in their third or fourth year in McGill’s dentistry school. Sweet said the clinic offers them a chance to get real world experience treating patients.

“We’re doing exams, hygiene, restorative procedures, extractions, light periodontal gum procedures as well,” he said. “We are trying to develop dentists who are a bit more empathetic, so we try to approach the patient more as a person than a case or file.”

Patient Sylvia Berltrand praised the clinic and the care she receives.

“This is a good thing,” she said. “I can come here and they are going to follow my problem.”