Working poor deserve dental care

TheStar.com – Opinion/Letters – Re: Poor denied dental care, Editorial June 14
Published On Wed Jun 16 2010

The Ontario Dental Association feels strongly that the failure to provide dental care for the working poor is a tragedy.

There are existing government programs that are ineffective. For example, the Children in Need of Treatment (CINOT) program is designed to focus on catastrophic care, which means as your oral health doctor, I can fix a hole in your child’s tooth but I can’t help you prevent that hole in the first place.

The statistics are staggering. In 2000, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control reported that dental caries (tooth decay) is the most common chronic childhood disease, five times more common than asthma in children aged five through 17. Additionally, in the report “Toronto’s Health Status: A Profile of Public Health in 2001,” experts say dental decay is the most frequent condition suffered by children other than the common cold and is one of the leading causes of absences from school. Finally, the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) estimates that more than 51 million school hours and 164 million hours of work are lost in the U.S. each year due to dental related absences.

The ADEA estimated that for every dollar spent on prevention in oral health care, as much as $50 is saved on restorative and emergency dental procedures. Dental costs for children who receive preventive dental care early in life are 40 per cent lower than costs for children whose oral health is neglected.

CINOT needs to focus on prevention and it is not the only government program that needs to be reworked. Dentists want to help.

Recently, the ODA supported a collaborative proposal from the University of Toronto’s and the University of Western Ontario’s Faculties of Dentistry to government, which would see clinics at UWO and U of T remain open 12 months of the year. These clinics would be fully supported by dentists and dental students. This proposal also included the establishment of satellite clinics that would increase access for low-income Ontarians in less urban areas.

It could be a real solution for many. We have received no response. Ontarians deserve more.

Dr. Lynn Tomkins, President, Ontario Dental Association

Is dental care an option for optimum health care? Definitely not! The provincial government did promise dental assistance for low-income Ontarians. Suddenly, only children, but not adults, are the priority for treatment. Why are the needs of the province’s 500,000 working poor, who struggle daily, dismissed once again? Are they not deemed worthy for essential treatment? Money is not an excuse for the governments in action.

Shari Baker, Scarborough

< http://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters/article/824547–working-poor-deserve-dental-care >

2 Comments

  1. This is one more issue encouraging the working poor to give up working and access basic dental care via social benefits.
    University and college dental students have the need to see patients to enable completion of degree and diploma programs. There was once a time when the poor could obtain dental care for a nominal fee while dental college students gained required experience. These schools are now charging approximately two-thirds the cost as compared to a fully licensed dental professional. This cost is in spite of the fact that the patient must spend several hours per appointment and often more appointments than would be required by a qualified professional. In my opinion, if the dental association truly believed the importance of good dental care/health for ALL they would organize a program whereby professionals shared in the donation of time each month. This program would be for the care of working poor patients are able to qualify according to preset criteria. Government support will be required to cover costs over and above the donation of professional time.
    It seems to me at times that as a nation we are more interested in helping the poor in other nations while our own citizens struggle.

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