Queen’s students filling the oral hygiene cavity

Queen’s Dental Aid Network supplying Kingston with oral health products

Image supplied by: QDAN
Founders of the Queen’s Dental Aid Network (from left to right): Connor Hamlyn, Kianna Niaki, and Peter Hwang.

Concerned by marginalized group’s limited access to dental care, students started the Queen’s Dental Aid Network (QDAN).Launched in April 2023, the QDAN is a new student group dedicated to improving oral and dental care across the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox, and Addington (KFL&A) region, specifically among marginalized groups such as Kingston’s unhoused population.

Founders of QDAN, Kianna Niaki, ArtSci ’24, and Peter Hwang, ArtSci ’24, heard about the negative impacts of poor oral hygiene in their classes and became committed to making oral health care accessible to marginalized communities.

“The general population may not be aware of the negative impact poor oral hygiene may have. This was something that did not sit well with Peter and I,” Niaki said in a statement to The Journal.

The importance of accessing oral health care extended beyond the classroom for Niaki. She learned first-hand how many barriers there are to accessing a dentist.

“It was only until recently my father’s job acquired proper dental insurance; before this, every trip to the dentist would cost hundreds to thousands of dollars, putting a financial strain on my family even though we have two steady incomes flowing in,” Niaki said.

Niaki and Hwang set out to address the Kingston community’s oral hygiene needs by having QDAN provide individuals—specifically members of lower income families and marginalized communities—with dental supplies. Other initiatives at Queen’s are informative, according to Niaki.

“We decided to build an efficient system where we collect donations for dental care supplies—toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss—from local dentists and larger retailers to donate to organizations around the KFL&A region,” Niaki said.

QDAN is partnered with Lionhearts Inc. and their community Food Redistribution Warehouse, a Shoppers Drug Mart, and two local dentists. Donations from QDAN’S partners are redistributed to Kingston services such as the Adelaide Emergency Shelter, Kingston Youth Centre and the Integrated Care Hub.

“During our initial donation event at the Adelaide Emergency Shelter, we provided over 700 toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, and floss packs, which was well received,” Hwang said.

The network set a goal to secure one community partner each month to donate crucial products that range from essential food items to a single toothbrush. With inflation, and the club’s reliance on donations, QDAN has developed a donation strategy ensuring a steady supply; they’re requesting nearly expired oral hygiene products from donors.

“Research has shown that expired oral hygiene products generally do not pose significant risks or dangers, their effectiveness may simply diminish over time,” Hwang said.

“We are hoping to make partnership with all clinics in town and as many retailers to sustain a monthly donation schedule,” Niaki added.

QDAN is hoping to extend their services by undertaking a new care package initiative. The initiative will bring oral hygiene products straight to the doors of community members in need. The care packages will include pamphlets on oral health and affordable insurance options.

“By providing valuable educational resources and dental hygiene products we want to empower individuals to take care of their oral health” Hwang said.

According to Hwang, starting a new club requires establishing a strong foundation from scratch, including building a good reputation and establishing trust with partners. The club is currently awaiting ratification from the AMS, which he said will add to its credibility and improve QDAN’s access to resources.

“We’re now hiring club executives and general members to strengthen our organization and expand our working capabilities. This will help us get ratified with the AMS, to access funding, licensing, and many more school resources,” Hwang said.

Connor Hamlyn, HealthSci ’25, QDAN’s outreach director, is recruiting students by highlighting the impact they can have on their communities.

“The Queen’s community, including students, faculty, and staff, can play a vital role in supplying these essential products to those in need,” Hamlyn said.

“The more members we have, the greater our ability to expand our reach and make a difference,” Hamlyn added.

Niaki, Hwang, and Hamlyn encouraged other students to get involved with QDAN. Prospective members can e-mail QDAN or follow the group on social media.


community, dental hygiene, QDAN, Queen's club

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