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More funding needed for Healthy Smiles: Dentists

Program provides care to 254,000 children a year, less than half of those eligible

(Photo credit: freepik.com)Ontario’s dentists are calling on the Ford government to pump $50 million into a program providing dental care to children from low-income families.

The Ontario Dental Association is requesting the funding support Healthy Smiles Ontario, which provides care to children under the age of 17 from low-income families.

Dentists currently treat approximately 254,000 children annually under the program, but according to the Ontario Dental Association, more needs to be done to make sure all 530,000 children in Ontario eligible for the program get the care they need.

The Region of Durham received $1.432 million for the Healthy Smiles program last year.

Association officials are also calling for increased funding for other programs for low-income adults, people with disabilities, and those with complex medical conditions.

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

The province recently launched the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program, which provides $90 million for treatment for low-income seniors.

However, dentists believe there are issues with the new program that need to be addressed.

“The ODA is still concerned low-income seniors have to endure the inconvenience and financial burden of leaving their current dentists to travel long distances for treatment at government facilities with practitioners who don’t know their medical or dental history,” a media statement reads.

For more information on the Ontario Dental Association’s proposal, visit oda.ca/BackToBiteUs.

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