North York dentist lends expertise to dental outreach
By Angelica Ingram
Published May 17, 2016
Dr. Nita Tilak has a special set of skills that most people don’t and has been putting them to good use at the Volunteer Dental Outreach in Haliburton since coming aboard as a volunteer.
A dentist who lives and works in North York, Tilak joined the VDO last fall, but a broken knee prevented her from starting at the charity organization until this spring.
Tilak has been coming to the VDO every Wednesday for the past month, volunteering as a dentist for an entire day, before making the three-hour trip back home.
Tilak, 53, is originally from India and moved to Canada when she was a child. A graduate of the University of Toronto, she has been a dentist for more than 25 years.
Tilak was inspired to become a dentist by her university roommate, who was interested in the career.
She first learned about the VDO through a dental magazine and thought it would be a great opportunity for her to give back.
“Now that my girls are grown up I have a lot more free time,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to help in the community. I was really thrilled to know that I could use my dental skills, because not all volunteers can do dentistry.”
Tilak drives back and forth from North York every week, a six-hour round trip.
While at the VDO she sees a number of patients and performs a number of services, including fillings and cleanings.
“I told them book me up to the hilt,” she says.
Tilak’s daughter Rakhi, 18, has also been volunteering her time at the VDO, learning more about being a dentist.
“Here I really get to see the fillings and different extractions, it’s great,” she said.
The dentist also volunteers her time at an organization in downtown Toronto, where she helps youth living on the street.
Tilak is looking forward to spending more Wednesdays at the VDO and plans to volunteer as long as weather permits.
The dentist describes her experience at the Haliburton clinic so far as “fulfilling.”
“The staff is really appreciative, the patients are just glowing when they leave with appreciation,” she said.
This month the VDO is celebrating its fifth anniversary, said board director Lisa Kerr.
Since its inception, the clinic has had 23 dentists and 21 hygienists volunteer their time, completing more than $1.6 million worth of dentistry.
There have been 618 patients and more than 4,560 appointments since the VDO opened its doors on May 19, 2011.