April has been proclaimed as Oral Health Month by the Ontario Oral Health Alliance, the ideal time to talk about the need for everyone in this country to have access to affordable dental care.
Currently, Ontario Health Insurance (OHIP) covers health care for every part of a person’s body, except teeth and gums. A recent study by Public Health Ontario found that one in five Ontarians does not visit a dentist because they cannot afford it. The cost of oral health services and/or lack of private coverage can significantly deter many local residents from obtaining proper, regular dental care. As a result, thousands of people in this province suffer with pain and infection from poor oral health.
Community Care’s Community Dental Clinic was established in 2011. When the organization conducted a community assessment of local health care needs, oral health services were identified as a large priority in the City of Kawartha Lakes.
Unfortunately, many people without private coverage have no choice but to go to the local Emergency Room of their hospital when they have dental issues. They will receive painkillers at the ER, but no treatment to alleviate their problems.
That’s one reason why Community Care’s dental clinic – which is available to local residents regardless of their income levels – was established with lower overall fees than what private dental practices charge. It’s hoped that the lower fees will help more families access regular oral health services.
Since it was established, the clinic has served more than 4,700 local residents, through more than 23,000 appointments. Many clients are from low income households, or receive assistance from government programs. Additionally, the clinic is a partner with the Healthy Smiles Ontario – a no-cost dental program for eligible youth age 17 and under. Approximately 20 per cent of patients are under age 20.
Most of these clients had never received proper oral health care prior to coming to the Community Dental Clinic. Parents seem especially happy to get good care for their children.
Proper and regular oral health care for young people can prevent many significant health complications and challenges in later years. By treating so many local young people, and individuals and families of low income, the clinic is an efficient and effective partner in health care service delivery in our community.
The Community Care Community Dental Clinic is located at 108 Angeline St. S. in Lindsay. Call 705-324-7323 for information, or visit www.ccckl.ca