The Alliance champions affordable and accessible oral health care for children and adults living on low income in Ontario.
OHIP does not cover health care for our teeth and gums. Yet you cannot be truly healthy if you have diseased teeth and gums. Poor oral health makes chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease more severe.
In Ontario 1 in 5 people do not visit a dentist due to the cost of private dental care. When they experience pain and infection they often end up in the hospital emergency room, but can get only painkillers and antibiotics, no treatment there.
Research by the Alliance using MOHLTC data has found that there are almost 60,000 visits to hospital emergency rooms each year and 222,000 visits to doctors for dental pain and infection. This costs the healthcare system at least $38 million annually, with no treatment of the problem.
Limited public dental programs mean that access to oral health care is still based on income, leaving behind too many people who are working poor or living on fixed incomes. Since 2010, Ontario has been offering free public dental programs for children in low-income families, but they are not reaching enough kids. In 2018 the PC government promised a public dental program for low income seniors.
The Alliance wants the Ontario government to extend full treatment public dental programs to low income adults and seniors, including people on social assistance. Alliance members are well positioned to provide these services with 25 CHCs and 3 AHACs running dental clinics that provide cost-effective services with salaried dental staff working within a defined budget.
Are you a senior worried about the cost of dental care? Raise your voice to ensure the government delivers on their promise by calling, emailing or visiting your MPP.
Share this educational video – Gap in our healthcare system
To help people spread the word on social media about the gap in oral health care for low-income adults and seniors, the Ontario Oral Health Alliance produced a whiteboard video that spotlights the connection between chronic disease and poor oral health care, as well as the social effects of not having access to dental care. It's a great overview of the current state of oral health care in the province, and the pressure that continuing to ignore the problem puts on emergency departments and family doctors.
- 'Sometimes I can't drink or eat': Syrian refugee living in B.C. faces $10K dental bill - CBC The Current, December 7, 2017
- Filling in the Gaps: Dental care in Canada - CBC The Current, November 27, 2017
- A decade later, Jason Jones still smiling thanks to generosity of Star readers - Toronto Star, October 30, 2017
- Why Doesn't Our Health-Care System Cover Dental? - Huffington Post, April 7, 2017
- Private dental care fails millions in Ontario - Waterloo Region Record, April 4, 2017
- Prescription from ER doctor: expand public dental programs - Toronto Star, February 21, 2017
- Health reform in Ontario must include oral health - Toronto Star, May 19, 2016
- How low-income people suffer without dental care - CBC Metro Morning, February 29, 2016
- Universal Dental care? - CBC Metro Morning, February 29, 2016
- Ontario Morning (starts at 10:30 min mark) - CBC Radio, February 29, 2016
- Dental care - CBC Metro Morning, March 1, 2016
- Health network spends $1.7 M per year on 'painkillers' for dental service - CBC News, March 2, 2016
Pre-election Dental Forum at Queen's Park
On March 21, 2018 over 80 community members from across Ontario met at Queen's Park to get MPPs talking about expanding access to dental care - a gaping hole in our healthcare system. They tabled this proposal to all political parties. Read and share the proposal. The Alliance was pleased to see that all 3 major party platforms in the 2018 Ontario election included a commitment to expand access to dental care.
- Lack of access to dental care: The costs to our healthcare system. Ontario Oral Health Alliance (2019)
- Improving Access to Oral Health Care for Vulnerable People Living in Canada. Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (2014)
- Review of Oral Health Services in Ontario. College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario. Prepared by Optimus/SBR (2014)
- Low Wages, No Benefits Expanding Access To Health Benefits For Low Income Ontarians. Wellesley Institute (2015)
- Oral Health ‐ More Than Just Cavities. Report of Ontario’s Chief Medical Health Officer, Arlene King (2012)
- Staying Ahead of the Curve: A unified public oral health program for Ontario?. Dental Public Health, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto (2012)
- Putting Our Money Where Our Mouth Is: The Future of Dental Care in Canada. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (2011)