Improvements Needed To Government Dental Programs
Dr. King Says Programs Need To Broaden Their Effectiveness, Efficiency and Reach
Ontario's low income dental programs need to be reviewed to improve their effectiveness, efficiency and reach, says the province's Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Dr. Arlene King says Ontario has made significant progress in providing dental care to low-income Ontarians, but more needs to be done. There are a number of publicly funded programs available including the Children In Need of Treatment (CINOT) dental program, Healthy Smiles Ontario, Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program. According to Dr. King, these programs amount to a patchwork of services that are difficult for people to navigate, and difficult to assess in terms of health outcomes achieved and return on investment.
In her report, "Oral Health - More Than Just Cavities," Dr. King calls on the province to consider integrating these programs to make it easier for people to access the care that is needed, when it is needed.
Dr. King also calls on the province to:
- Ensure all Ontarians have access to fluoridated drinking water
- Review how publicly funded oral health programs are monitored and evaluated
- Improve access to oral health care as well as awareness of oral health services available to First Nations people in Ontario.
- Tooth decay is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases, affecting 57 per cent of children, 59 per cent of adolescents and 96 per cent of adults.
- One in five Ontarians who has not been to a dentist in the last three years cites cost as the reason.
- The average lifetime cost per person to fluoridate a community is less than the cost of one dental filling.
- Dental disease is one of the main reasons preschool children receive a general anaesthetic.
“We have made significant strides in providing dental services to people who struggle to pay from their own pockets. But current efforts are not enough. Opportunities exist to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of current publicly funded programs so we can improve access to oral health services for Ontarians.”
Dr. Arlene King
Joanne Woodward Fraser
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care