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Why Give | Impact stories

How dental care provided by UBC’s Geriatric Dentistry Program changed a senior’s life

Ninety-eight-year-old Kam Fung Tang can now eat and enjoy her meals, thanks to the Geriatric Dentistry Program team who helped restore her oral health and improve her quality of life.

When Mrs. Kam Fung Tang first moved into a long-term care home in 2019, it was difficult for her to eat—she had very few teeth, and as a result, she lost weight. Today, thanks to the care she receives from UBC’s Geriatric Dentistry Program, she can once again eat her favourite foods.

Mrs. Tang lives in Minoru Residence, a long-term care home in Richmond, BC. In 2015, the Richmond Hospital/Health Care Auxiliary partnered with UBC Dentistry to open a clinic inside Minoru Residence. This invaluable upgrade allows residents to receive regular dental care without having to travel off-site, providing a sense of security especially for those with mobility challenges. Over six months, Mrs. Tang had several teeth extracted and was fitted for new dentures inside the clinic, restoring much of her dental function.

“Providing our future dentists, dental hygienists and dental specialists with impactful clinical educational experiences in treating older adults has been a top priority for UBC Dentistry, and the Minoru Residence dental clinic is just one example of our efforts coming to life,” says Dr. Chris Wyatt, Director of the UBC Geriatric Dentistry Program.

Mrs. Tang’s care was provided by Dr. Jay Lam, who graduated from UBC Dentistry in 2016. During his time at UBC, Dr. Lam participated in clinical rotations at long-term care homes, an important part of dental training made possible by donors who generously give to the Geriatric Dentistry Program. His experience has come full circle—his time spent in school cemented just how critical dental care is for seniors, and today he is one of the Geriatric Dentistry Program dentists working at Minoru Residence.

“As our population ages, it’s becoming more and more essential for dentists like myself to know how to provide oral healthcare to seniors,” says Dr. Lam. “The mouth plays a critical role in our daily function and overall health, and with seniors, the care can be quite complex. I’m grateful for everything I learned about working with this population during my time at UBC Dentistry and for the opportunity to give back to the community I live and work in by providing care to Minoru residents.”

Today, Mrs. Tang—who is 98 years old—has gained back the weight she lost and looks forward to each meal. Her son Gary Tam visits her every day and says the change he’s seen in his mother since Dr. Lam came into their lives has been nothing short of astounding.

“My mom can once again eat her favourite Chinese food, so I bring it to her as often as I can,” says Gary. “She’s just so happy now, which also makes me happy.”

Donors to the UBC Geriatric Dentistry Program support a curriculum that pairs dental students with faculty experienced in working with this vulnerable population. Students apply the clinical skills gained during their geriatric rotations to support seniors, ensuring aging loved ones are taken care of well into the future.

You can make a difference in the lives of seniors like Mrs. Tang by giving to the Geriatric Dentistry Program.

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