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Dentist pushes oral hygiene with "Toothmobile" giveaway

Dr. Todd Haskin hangs up the jersey given to Fairbanks Family Dentistry as part of their sponsorship of the UA Nanooks.

A Fairbanks dentist is encouraging patients to keep up their oral hygiene by giving away -- a car. Dr. Todd Haskin says he wants people to be up-to-date with dental exams and cleanings.

Some people need encouragement to get regular teeth cleanings.

Dr. Todd Haskin has given away prizes, like a Sonicare toothbrush, or an overnight stay at Chena Hot Springs. But this time, he and his associates went much bigger.

“The goal was for the wow factor , you know, I mean, winning a Sonicare toothbrush. Okay, cool, but, but winning a car?”

This month, Fairbanks Family Dentistry is giving away a Chevrolet Equinox.

“This has actually been a year-and-a-half long campaign to say, ‘Hey, if you come into the dentist and you get a cleaning and an exam, then you will get entry into the raffle.’”

Haskin says dentists see some patients only when they are in pain, or have an emergency, but he wants all patients to come in regularly.

“It's so vital to take care of your teeth and to take care of them regularly. That's the more important thing than, you know, getting some kind of fancy crown or something. The more important thing is just that regular cleanings, keeping your oral health, you know, prevention is always better than treatment.”

Haskin started three years ago as a sole practitioner and has grown the practice to four dentists plus two military part-time dentists as one of the largest practices in town, serving about 2,000 patients a year.

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Dr. Todd Haskin checks in with staffer Robert Doerning at Fairbanks Family Dentistry.

In 2021, the practice expanded into the adjacent storefront in Chena Pump Plaza on the west side of Fairbanks, and he thought to celebrate the new space with an open house and the car raffle. He says there are thousands of tickets, but some patients have more than one chance to win.

“Typically, people get a cleaning or an exam every six months, so you would say on average three raffle tickets per patient. So yeah, we were definitely over a thousand, maybe over 2000 tickets. And then of course, people that referred us, would earn extra tickets on top of that.”

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A sign in the waiting room at Fairbanks Family Dentistry tells patients to update their teeth cleanings and exams to be eligible to win a car.

Haskin says it is all about staying current with regular care.

“I would say it's more common where we live in Fairbanks -- we have a lot of patients that live far away. From Delta or the other side, Nenana or Healy. We even have patients that live off the road system and have to fly in for their appointments. And so yeah, it's hard, it's hard to come in regularly, but it doesn't change the fact that it's better to stay on top of it than to let things lapse until it's too late.”

Fairbanks Family Dentistry is also the official dentist of the Alaska Nanooks at UAF. Haskin offered to make every athlete a mouth guard.

 “As part of our sponsorship for the Nanooks, we offer to make sports guards for everybody. The hockey players -- funny thing is most of them didn't want one! But we gave 'em to a bunch of the hockey players, basketball players, volleyball.”

He has also treated a few athletes’ injuries. The practice was given a hockey jersey to show off and tickets to games to pass on to patients.

Robyne began her career in public media news at KUAC, coiling cables in the TV studio and loading reel-to-reel tape machines for the radio station.