Nadja Lennie, whose family is originally from the Sahtu, opened Yellowknife’s new Fireside Denture Clinic earlier this month.
The Indigenous businesses owner was a dental hygienist for 13 years before she decided to go back to school to become a denturist.
“I noticed a lot of my clients had denture issues and said they wished somebody from the North was able to help them with a little more customized service, somewhere they could have confidence their dentures would fit properly,” she said.
Before Lennie opened up Fireside, she said, other denturists had worked in Yellowknife but “nobody seems to stay.”
At times when there was no denturist, dentists would take impressions and send them to labs in the south – which Lennie described as a time-consuming process for everyone involved.
Like other businesses, Fireside has been impacted by Covid-19. Lennie signed the lease on her 47 Street office just before the pandemic hit. Because she had just received a $100,000 grant from the Métis Dene Development Fund, she had to either open the business or lose the funding.
While the pandemic gave her extra time to set up the office, she has been busy since she opened with dentists across the NWT referring clients to her.
“I’m here just to help ease the load for some of the dentists in Yellowknife, especially with Covid. The schedules are so booked at the dental offices right now,” she said.
“Dentures take a lot of time to make, and there needs to be a lot of time consulting with patients in order to make their dentures fit properly. So I just offer a space where they can come and get all their treatment needs met.”
In addition to making dentures in-house, Lennie handles repairs and relines.
“It definitely speeds things up for people and they don’t have to go long periods of time without their teeth,” she said.
Looking back on the past few months, Lennie said it’s been a lot of work but that “everybody has been so helpful with advice and helping me build this space.”
“I honestly wouldn’t have been able to do it without everybody’s help in Yellowknife,” she said.
One of the people that helped her is Dr Hassan Adam, who runs Adam Dental Clinic and Frame Lake Family Dental.
Lennie worked as part-time denturist and part-time dental hygienist out of Adam’s Frame Lake location until she was ready to launch her own business.
“I’m very happy,” said Adam. “She’s an excellent clinician and she’s going to do really well.
“We were desperate for a denturist in Yellowknife … It’s going to be such a huge plus for Yellowknife and the Northwest Territories.
“Dentures are a very valuable thing for people who don’t have teeth – it’s a great service to have.”