ODA Asks for $50 Million to Provide Oral Healthcare to Underserved Kids

Dentistry Today

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The Ontario Dental Association (ODA) has made a formal request to the provincial government to fix its dental program for children with a $50 million investment. The money is to support Healthy Smiles Ontario (HSO), which provides care to kids under the age of 17 from low-income families. 

Dentists currently treat more than 254,000 children under HSO, but the ODA says something has to be done to ensure the more than 530,000 eligible children get the regular care they need. In fact, the ODA says, the province has three other major dental programs for low-income adults, people with disabilities, and those with complex medical conditions, and none of them are funded properly either. 

ODA president Dr. Kim Hansen recently met with Premier Doug Ford to discuss the issue.

“Dentists have been subsidizing public dental programs by as much as $150 million a year. This is a serious problem that can’t be ignored any longer. Ontario’s dentists have the knowledge, ideas, and passion to work with the government to find a solution,” said Hansen.

That willingness to find solutions includes fixing issues with the newly launched Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program, ODA says. Health units have been working to roll out the program, but confusion remains, ODA adds, particularly for patients.

The ODA is still concerned that low-income seniors have to endure the inconvenience and financial burden of leaving their current dentist to travel long distances for treatment at government facilities with practitioners who don’t know their health or dental history. Dental buses pose many logistical problems as well, the ODA says. 

The ODA further says that the cost of ignoring the dental needs of the most vulnerable members of the community is much higher than the price of properly funding these programs.

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