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Ontario Oral Health Alliance awaits response from parties in Ontario election to address dental pain and suffering

For immediate release                                                          

ORAL HEALTH ALLIANCE AWAITS RESPONSE FROM PARTIES IN ONTARIO ELECTION TO ADDRESS DENTAL PAIN AND SUFFERING

TORONTO – The Ontario Oral Health Alliance is calling on all parties in the Ontario election to commit to expanding public dental programs to adults and seniors who cannot afford treatment for dental pain and infection.

OHIPdoes not provide health coverage to prevent and treat diseases of our teeth and gums.  One in every 5 people in Ontario does not visit a dentist because they cannot afford it.  The Ontario Oral Health Alliance has written to the three main party leaders asking how they plan to address this problem.

Data from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care indicates there are over 270,000 visits per year to doctors and hospital emergency rooms across Ontario by people with dental pain and infection.

“People who can’t afford to see a dentist have no choice but to visit doctors and emergency rooms. We estimate this costs Ontario’s healthcare system at least $35 million a year. But people can only get pain killers-  no treatment- so the problem persists,” said Jacquie Maund, from the Association of Ontario Health Centres. 

“This is not a good use of public healthcare dollars. The Ontario Oral Health Alliance is calling on all parties in the Ontario election to commit to redirect the minimum $35 million currently spent on dental pain in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms and top it up to develop a $90 million public oral health program for low income adults and seniors,” said Maund, who will be one of 60 delegates from public health units and community health centres at the annual Ontario Oral Health Alliance Symposium in Toronto on May 30th.  At this meeting at Metro Hall members from across the province will be developing options for how the Province can expand public dental programs for people in need.

All of the main party platforms include commitments on healthcare and ensuring value for money. But no one is talking about the urgent need in Ontario for access to affordable dental programs for adults which can have a huge impact on health and economic wellbeing.

“Getting proper front teeth has made a big difference in my life. I couldn’t afford the dental work I needed so I was in pain with rotted teeth, unable to get a job and support my family.  There are no public dental programs for people in my situation.  Thanks to my local Community Health Centre and a sympathetic dentist I now have healthy teeth and a new job in the food industry.  But good dental care shouldn’t depend on good luck – if the government expanded dental programs for adults and seniors who can’t afford a dentist many more people would be healthier and able to move forward in their lives,”  said Ontario Oral Health Alliance spokesperson Chantal Robinson.

“It’s great that Ontario now has public dental programs for low income children.  But their parents, grandparents and single adults struggling on low incomes need and deserve access to dental care too. It’s frustrating when we get 50 calls every week in the London area from people in pain and we have nowhere to refer them for dental treatment,” said Maria van Harten, President of the Ontario Association of Public Health Dentistry.

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For further information contact:

Jacquie Maund, Association of Ontario Health Centres

jacquie@aohc.org  Tel. 647-294-5724

Thursday, May 29, 2014
health