One in five people in Ontario can’t afford to see a dentist.
You have to wonder how Ontario, one of the most affluent places on earth, has 2.3 million people who can’t afford to see a dentist. The irony is that those that can afford dental health care usually have benefits and those who can’t, don’t.
Not being able to access dental care carries a heavy physical and psychological toll. It also translates into serious health care costs when people have no choice but to show up at the doctor’s office or emergency room in pain with a dental infection.
Ontario sees 59,000 visits to Emergency Rooms and 218,000 visits to doctors for dental pain and infection. These are band-aid solutions that translate into 37 million dollars a year. In Niagara alone, the costs are well over 1 million dollars.
The Niagara Dental Health Coalition developed in response to the gap in dental health services for adults and seniors living on a low income. Ultimately the Coalition wants to see the expansion of publicly funded dental health programs – it’s the only way to close the gap in service.
While working to increase capacity for public policies changes, the Coalition developed a resource to help people navigate the patchwork of publicly-funded programs, as well as the charitable and most cost effective dental services available in our community.
The Dental Health Intervention Tool let’s people know what’s available in Niagara.
There is some good news though. In 2014 the Ontario government promised to extend public dental programs to low-income adults and seniors, but not until 2025. If you think public dental programs should be offered to low-income adults and seniors sooner, take a moment to send a message and e-petition to Dr. Eric Hoskins.
Rhonda Health Promoter
Chair of Niagara Dental Health Coalition