The Build Your Smile Dental Foundation was born from the simple idea that progressive dental care shouldn’t only be a right afforded to those who can afford the luxury. It was on a mission trip to rural Uganda that Dr. Izchak Barzilay recognized this simple truth. ‘Why is it,’ he mused, ‘that one’s oral health should be determined by status or place of birth? Why is it that the availability should be lacking in an age where information is so readily available? Are these people any less deserving?’ And with that he committed himself and his team to give back on annual trips to Uganda. Each year the size of the team grew, along with the sponsors who identified with his vision.
The work that started in Uganda didn’t stay there. What began as simple extractions and education on how to maintain the teeth that were left evolved into innovating new technologies that provided the poor with new teeth – a new set of dentures made in a day. News spread throughout the Ugandan communities and it was not uncommon to hear of people walking for days to be treated in the next village. As the need grew, so did our local networks, and the Build Your Smile Dental Foundation expanded beyond care and into training dental officers on the ground in Uganda.
By this point, many members of Dr. Barzilay’s home practice, Prosthodontic Associates, had been involved with the Uganda missions – either in preparation in Toronto or on the ground in Africa. It remained troubling to some, however, that there remained vulnerable members of our own community who, while having many of our modern conveniences, were still lacking in adequate oral care. One particular subset were the women of Street Haven at the Crossroads, who, due to life’s uncertainties, had been left with difficulty smiling – perhaps both physically and emotionally. It became a mission around the office to help these women smile again – and often. Not only has this initiative led to multiple homeless women receiving full mouth restorations, the Build Your Smile Dental Foundation has provided dental supplies including toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss, and has organized clothing drives to supply clothing donations to the deserving women in Street Haven’s care.
What started out as a passion project has grown at a rate we could never have predicted. Along the way, the work of the Build Your Smile Dental Foundation has inspired not only the team at our local practice, but also many of our suppliers, providers, and educational partners who have been extraordinarily generous in donating their products, time, and team members to the cause.
We are continuing to grow and hope we can count on you to join us!
Build Your Smile Dental Foundation's Implant Placement Program began in 2014. A team of dental professionals led by Dr. Izchak Barzilay volunteered their time and expertise to deliver critical dental care to underserved and impoverished communities in Uganda.
Initially, the team was only to provide standard dental care - emergency management, oral surgery, restorations, periodontal services, oral hygiene, and nutritional counseling. Over time, the dental program expanded to include prosthodontics and implant dentistry as well. This program was the first of its kind and provided same-day denture fabrication and insertion - what was once thought to be unattainable and was certainly an unprecedented service in Uganda.
In February 2018, Dr. Barzilay introduced a unique pilot project - dental implant placement and restoration. Two cases were carefully selected and implant placement surgery was performed in the field. At the time of the procedure, temporary restorations were placed and final impressions were made. Postoperative exams were completed prior to the team's return to Canada. The surgical patients were seen for regular assessments and radiographic examination by Ugandan dental officers who were trained by Dr. Barzilay. Findings and radiographs were transmitted electronically for review. Implant restorations were fabricated by Barzilay Dental Laboratory in Toronto, Canada.
Build Your Smile Dental Foundation returned to Uganda in November 2018 to host the inaugural International Dental Symposium at the Makarere University College of Health Sciences in Kampala, Uganda's capital. The symposium brought together multiple Canadian dental educators including Dr. Daniel Haas, Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Toronto. The team of educators shared their knowledge and expertise with three hundred Ugandan dental students, Deans, and Program Supervisors through a series of lecture presentations and demonstrations. A large portion of the educational component of the symposium was centered on various prosthodontic topics including implant surgery and restorations.
At the same time as the symposium was being held, arrangements were made for the surgical patients seen nine months prior to travel to Kampala to be seen for their implant restoration insertions. The process was observed by local dental students and professionals for training purposes.
The Build Your Smile Dental Foundation will return to Uganda for another clinical outreach in July 2019. At the request of the communities we serve, the local dental professionals, and the host NGO, we will be expanding the implant program. Eight dental implant placement surgeries are planned for July 2019 with the implant restoration to be completed in February 2020.
Build Your Smile Dental Foundation's long term goal is to continually expand the prosthodontic and implant programs both clinically and academically. This includes the creation of a higher dental education center which will act both as a dental hospital and an education facility. Prosthodontics and dental implants will be pivotal components of the curriculum and training.