Thank You to ALL of Oral Health, Total Health Volunteers, Participants & Sponsors who were with us for our Journey from 2008‑2020

OHTH Thanks You
OHTH Thanks You
Oral Health, Total Health (OHTH) was a Federal Non-Profit Organization founded by Dr. Alison Sigal as a first-year dental student in 2008 at the University of Toronto and led until its completion in 2020. With a mission to advocate, educate, and improve the oral health care of persons with special needs of all ages.

Since inception, Dr. Sigal and her OHTH family successfully reached across Canada, launching fifteen chapters led by inspiring students from their respective Faculties of Dentistry and Public Dental Hygiene Colleges.

Alison Sigal
Dr. Alison Sigal and her Dad, Dr. Michael Sigal – her lifelong mentor, friend, and inspiration.

OHTH Chapter Locations Included:

ONTARIO: Toronto, London, Hamilton, Sarnia, Guelph, Windsor, Ottawa

QUEBEC: Montreal (English and French)


MANITOBA: Winnipeg

ALBERTA: Edmonton

SASKATCHEWAN: Saskatoon, Regina


Map of Canada with Chapter Locations

History & OHTH Legacy

For over thirty years, oral health has remained as one of the top unmet health needs facing persons with special needs, whom research has shown, experience a greater load of oral disease including cavities and gum disease than the general population.

Research continues to indicate the strong relationship between inflammatory gum disease, and even cavities, and general diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and pneumonias. These increased risks for general diseases, pose even greater health risks with catastrophic outcomes for this high-risk population. When considering the probable relationships between oral and systemic disease in the special needs population, the need to provide adequate oral health care becomes very evident. Unfortunately, persons with special needs continue to have the hardest time finding dental care in their communities.

Their lack of access to oral care is due in part to dentists preferring not to treat persons with special needs in their offices for reasons including a lack of comfort or familiarity or belief of necessary special equipment. For this and other reasons, the reality is that many patients are forced to travel several hours for a routine 15-minute check-up to the few offering their services or for many, unfortunately, do not receive dental care.

Oral Health, Total Health (OHTH) was a purely student run organization to which held initiatives that brought together various groups that included: Dental and dental hygiene students, Faculty of Dentistry Alumni and Graduate Specialty students, Persons with special needs and their care workers/families to create a better community.

Throughout the twelve years – OHTH touched thousands of lives, including dedicated volunteers and incredible participants at the countless initiatives held at each location. From lecture presentations, to fundraising events that included galas, bake sales, and open mic nights to the infamous annual cornerstone event, Sharing Smiles Day.

Sharing Smiles Day Events were annual fun-filled, informative days where the attitudinal barriers between dental students and persons with special needs could be removed and positive relationships fostered. Every year, brought increased attendance, imagination of activities and smiles!

The primary reasons for why each OHTH Chapter held Sharing Smiles Days were to:

Provide opportunity for positive interactions: Many dentists and dental hygienists prefer not to treat persons with disabilities in their local clinics for reasons concerning a lack of comfort or familiarly. They claim that they do not feel comfortable caring for these individuals because they have never had prior interactions with persons with special needs.

Gain comfort, confidence & familiarity: Very few Faculties of Dentistry and Dental Hygiene Programs across Canada offer first-hand interactions providing care for persons with special needs.

To Educate, advocate and motivate: To bring awareness to both the lack of access to oral care that persons with special needs face, and the importance of oral health care as it relates to one’s overall health and quality of life. Educating all participants, volunteers, and caregivers that they can make a difference in the lives of this wonderful population.

Sharing Smiles Day events had undoubtedly grown from an idea in 2008, to becoming a movement amongst dental and dental hygiene students, in the belief of a better future and universal access to oral health care for all individuals. Days like these were important to allow for the students an opportunity to see persons with special needs as individuals, who like everyone else, need dental care.

We aspired for the students to leave each event with a newfound sense of understanding, confidence and comfort with interacting with persons with special needs – and can proudly say, that this was achieved.

History and Legacy of OHTH
University of Toronto Dental Student and participant having fun at a Sharing Smiles Day Event!
History and Legacy of OHTH
Canadian singer and songwriter Justin Hines performing at Sharing Smiles Day for all to dance and enjoy!
History and Legacy of OHTH
Dental student volunteer and participant, building relationships & sharing their smiles!
History and Legacy of OHTH
Toronto Argonaut #32 Andre Durie sharing his smiles with participants at Sharing Smiles day!
History and Legacy of OHTH
Dr. Alison Sigal and Sharing Smiles Day participant… can never have enough hugs and smiles!

Past OHTH and Sharing Smiles Day Events Video Library

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Special thank you to our major sponsors including Manulife and Colgate for all of their support over the years.


Signing off Message from OHTH Founder

It is our hope that all the hearts and lives that OHTH touched – that you will continue to work towards a future where all persons regardless of their disabilities have universal access to oral health care.

If you wish to contact Founder & President of Oral Health, Total Health, Dr. Alison Sigal B.Hons. Kin, DDS, MSc (Ped Dentistry), FRCD(c) you may reach her by email:

Thank you to everyone caring and advocating for the universal care of persons with special needs of all ages – YOU are our everyday heroes. Stronger together, for a better, brighter, tomorrow.

With heart, health & happiness,

(Dr. Sigal)