A professional staff member at Windsor Regional Hospital and local dentist is now heading up the Ontario Dental Association.
Dr. Charles Frank is the organization’s 148th president, the fifth president from Essex County.
A dentist for 36 years, Dr Frank’s practice is currently located at the corner of Tecumseh Road and Howard Avenue.
“Wow,” he says reflecting on close to four decades in the profession. “It doesn’t feel that way. I still enjoy working.”
The Ontario Dental Association represents more than 10,000 members or nine in 10 dentists across the province. It advocates for the profession at the government and private sector level promoting oral health and the highest standards of dental care.
Dr. Frank is excited about assuming the role and hopes to get out and meet his colleagues across the province, once he’s able to do so. “I’d like to maintain the ODA as the most trusted leader in the dental profession,” he says. “I’m quite fond of building bridges rather than walls.”
Born in Tara Ontario, near Owen Sound, Dr. Frank moved to Windsor at the age of four and besides his seven years in university at UWO in London, Windsor has been home.
As with every industry amid the pandemic, dentist offices have made adjustments to their practices in order to keep staff and patients safe. Plexiglass is now the norm to protect the reception areas, patients are screened prior to their appointments and fewer patients are seen per day for disinfection protocols.
But Dr. Frank is concerned about the three months that dentist offices were shut down at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Only emergency dental work was performed.
He says a lot of patients are staying away from their regular dental check-ups and cleaning because they assume dentist offices are unsafe, but the misconception will create more hardship in the long-term.
“Cavities don’t disappear on their own and tend to get larger over time. There is a cost to neglect,” he says. “People will run into trouble and avoiding the dentist will exacerbate any issues they may be having and ignoring.”
Dr. Frank emphasizes dentist offices are safe. In fact, he’s not aware of any Covid transmission from patient to staff or staff to patient which is remarkable given the nature of the work. He adds dental health is related to overall health and the problem has worsened by the removal of fluoride by the city of Windsor almost a decade ago.
Another challenge facing the industry is the shortage of manpower with the lack of dental hygienists and dental assistants. People are avoiding dentistry as a career choice and dentists are having a hard time keeping their offices staffed. And Covid is not to blame as the problem existed prior to the pandemic. Dr. Frank says there is a desperate need for qualified dental hygienists and assistants because without them, dentists can’t practice.
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