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Join the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association
in speaking up about improved access to preventive oral health care.

 

Prevention is key to good oral health. All Canadians need and deserve access to timely, high quality preventive oral hygiene services.

 

But for many Canadians, especially vulnerable populations like seniors, there are significant barriers to accessing the oral health care they need for their overall health, wellbeing, and quality of life  

 

It’s time to support seniors’ oral health!

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Oral health is an integral part of overall health and well-being

CDHA defines oral health as “the state of the mouth and associated structures being free

from disease and, where future disease is inhibited, maintaining functions such as eating,

talking, and smiling, contributing to overall health, well-being, and quality of life.”

 

Dental hygienists see the first-hand impacts of poor oral health when early and regular

preventive care is neglected or non-existent. That’s why the profession has long called for

expanded access to preventive oral care services for people in Canada.

 

Oral diseases are often associated with various systemic health conditions such as diabetes, respiratory, and cardiovascular diseases. If not treated adequately, appropriately, and proactively, oral health concerns can quickly become larger problems with severe consequences for one’s overall health and well-being. This costs our health care system an estimated $1 billion annually and places the safety and well-being of Canadians at risk.

Oral health concerns cost our health care system an estimated $1 billion annually.

Canada’s universal health care system includes dental/oral health care. As a result, access to oral health and dental coverage is typically facilitated one of three ways: dental benefits provided by a person’s employer (specific plan coverage per employee per year will vary based on employer’s choice of insurance plan), eligibility coverage under a federally- or provincially-funded dental program, or out-of-pocket spending for those with the financial means.

For seniors without the income or accessibility required to access routine oral health services,  the additional risk to their oral health and overall health is critical. Many older Canadians forego dental appointments and treatments because of cost alone, and issues surrounding geographical access and mobility only compound the situation.

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What are Canadians saying?

Highlights of Abacus Data findings from a national survey of 2,200 Canadian residents from January 7 to 12, 2022, include:

79%

identified ability to pay as a very serious/serious barrier to oral care.

72%

identified lack of government-funded programs as a very serious/serious barrier to oral care.

64%

identified restricted mobility as a very serious/serious barrier to oral care.

88%

want oral health included in national standards for long-term care (LTC).

47%

say that oral health services are non-existent or minimal.

86%

support federal government funding for preventive and basic oral health services.

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How do dental hygienists help?

As essential primary health care providers who work with older adults every day, dental hygienists play a vital role in the delivery of oral health services, education, and health promotion.  Dental hygienists fill the gaps that currently exist in oral health care services across the country by facilitating greater and more equitable access to oral health care for seniors and other vulnerable populations.

 

Dental hygienists across Canada are here to help

 

It is imperative that the Canada Dental Care Plan, the first iteration of which is set to be released at the end of this year, recognizes the specific needs of Canada’s most vulnerable populations like seniors and includes comprehensive coverage for both preventive and therapeutic services. Seniors deserve unimpeded, timely access to high-quality, preventive oral health care. Healthy smiles should last a lifetime.

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