By Jennifer Parraga, BA’93
The warm, sunny day on Western University’s campus provided the perfect setting for a celebration for the Papadopoulos family. On this day, June 16, 2017, Dr. Christos Papadopoulos walked across the stage at Alumni Hall, graduating from the Graduate Orthodontics Program. A few hours later, his sister, Vasiliki graduated from the family medicine residency program.
“We both have great memories of the strong communities our programs at Western offered,” said Dr. Papadopoulos, now a practising orthodontist in his home province of New Brunswick.
Community has always been important to him.
“My parents taught me from a young age that being a good person takes priority over everything else; that we should always treat others as we would want to be treated and that we should strive to create something bigger than ourselves within our community,” he said. “We have to pause and appreciate the people we meet and the positive impacts they have on us and find a way to give back in the same way to others in our community.”
Dr. Papadopoulos says his professors and former Department Chair Dr. Antonios Mamandras instilled the same in him during his studies at Schulich Dentistry.
“Dr. Mamandras is one of those people who will continue to impact my life,” he said. “ He welcomed me into the Schulich Dentistry and Western family and showed me the importance of being part of the university community, giving back and representing the profession well.”
At each stage of his life, Dr. Papadopoulos has found ways to support his community; whether it was by coaching the New Brunswick Special Olympics soccer team, acting in community theatre, volunteering with the Canadian Association of Orthodontists (CAO) or being on the executive of the Atlantic Orthodontists’ Association.
It’s his most recent work with Smiles4Canada that brings him great pride and personal satisfaction.
Smiles4Canada was established through the Canadian Foundation for the Advancement of Orthodontics (CFAO) in conjunction with the CAO and provides complimentary orthodontic treatment to children whose families would otherwise not be able to afford it. It’s a straightforward application process and once approved, young children and their families are matched up with an orthodontist in their community for care and treatment. Since its founding in 2016, the program has provided 451 children with orthodontic care.
“I first heard about the program while I was a resident,” said Dr. Papadopoulos. “I knew that I wanted to be involved with this program in some way, so I am proud to be serving in a leadership role to help children get access to orthodontic treatment and the benefits that come with it such as increased self-esteem and self-confidence.”
Now serving as the Atlantic Regional Chair for Smiles4Canada, Dr. Papadopoulos is responsible for recruiting orthodontists to participate in the program and working with a committee to match children to orthodontists who will provide care. And fortunately, the pandemic hasn’t dampened support for Smiles4Canada from the orthodontics community across Canada. Currently, 81 more children have recently been matched and are about to receive care this year.
“We’ve been lucky that orthodontists have maintained strong ties to Smiles4Canada and they continue their generosity to sustain the program and give children the opportunity to receive care.”
Despite his busy practice and continued volunteer work, Dr. Papadopoulos enjoys spending time with his family, playing music and is once again enjoying NBA basketball, cheering on his favorite team – the Toronto Raptors. He’s also fine-tuning his stand-up comedy routine. A relatively new endeavor that captured his imagination and his positive outlook on life, he has been taking stand-up comedy classes and had the opportunity to share his routine onstage in Moncton, NB at the Capitol Theatre.
“It was on my bucket list,” he said. “So I took some improv and stand-up classes and did my first show near the end of 2020.”
For Dr. Papadopoulos, continuing to make a difference in the lives of his patients and the young people receiving care through Smiles4Canada is the best part of his job and volunteer work.
“You see a young person who appears shy and with low self-esteem, and you fix their teeth and their smile and you can see the change in them as their care progresses. Then there is the big reveal; they walk out of my office with their brand new smile standing a little taller,” he said.
To learn more about Smiles4Canada visit: https://smiles4canada.ca/