Bev Woods has given thousands of people a reason to smile over her 33-year career.
After graduating from Durham College’s (DC) Dental Hygiene program in 1986, she has worked in both general practice and public health, gaining experience as a dental hygienist and eventually holding the title of director of dental hygiene for Maxwell College.
In 2008, while preparing to open her own dental hygiene office in Trenton, Ont., she was inspired by the idea of helping others. It was then that she founded Gift from the Heart (GFTH), a nonprofit organization and one-day event that brings together dental hygienists across the country to offer free dental hygiene services to those unable to afford or access care.
The first event saw 16 offices and over 50 dental hygienists from across Ontario participate, paving the way for another ten years of success. Today, the event takes place across Canada each year during National Dental Hygienists Week.
“Dental hygienists that offer free oral cancer screenings and dental hygiene services can potentially save a life,” says Bev, whose organization has provided over $1.2 million in no-cost dental hygiene care to vulnerable populations. “The more preventative care we can provide, the less our communities will need to visit emergency rooms for temporary relief from oral pain.”
In recognition of Bev’s generous work with GFTH and meaningful contribution to dental hygiene and her community, the Canadian Dental Hygiene Association presented her with an Award of Merit in 2014. Two years later, Bev was selected by the International Federation of Dental Hygienists to represent Canada at the Global Social Responsibility conference in Florence, Italy and received second place for the Social Responsibility Award.
“It’s amazing how much better someone can feel just from receiving a teeth cleaning. We increase their self-esteem, which in turn makes them smile more and eventually they’ll feel confident enough to give back to their own communities,” explains
Bev. “A simple act of kindness can have a profound difference on someone’s life, and sometimes it can also change your own life.”
While Bev has just finished her role as president for the Bay of Quinte Dental Hygienists Society and her three-year council position with the College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario, she continues to dedicate herself to her profession. Recently, she came out of retirement to join the Whole Health clinic in Brighton, Ontario. There, along with her work at GFTH, she continues to bring smiles to those she helps every day.