Ontario wants to keep children smiling.
The Healthy Smiles program officially launched Wednesday across Ontario, including at the Thunder Bay District Health Unit. The program will provide no-cost oral health services to children 17 and under living in low-income households who don’t already have dental coverage.
The services will cover check-ups, fillings, visits, x-rays, scaling, cleanings but not, emergency oral health care, cosmetic services or orthodontics services such as braces.
To qualify, children have to be from Ontario, have no access to dental care and be a member of a family with an Adjusted Family Net Income of $20,000 per year or below.
Even though the financial cut to register may appear low, Thunder Bay’s Healthy Smiles facilitator Tiina Ahokas said there’s some financial documents parents should watch out for.
“The financial documentation that we need to see is the Canada child tax benefits notice,” Ahokas said.
“It is an adjusted family income. Canada Revenue would have taken all of those adjustments into consideration of both parents and the benefits coming into the family. The adjusted level is quite low but I think families should look at their benefit notice to determine if they really are eligible.”
She said Ontario chose that cut off based off the child tax benefit and is consistent with what the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care considers low income.
She added that she would work with families to see if they are eligible.
Ontario’s chief medical officer of health reported that one in five Ontarians don’t visit their dentist regularly because of financial reasons. In Ontario, low income households have tooth decay rates as high as three times greater than high income households.
Ruth Currie, a registered dental hygienist with the health unit, has looked over children’s teeth for 34 years and said having the Healthy Smiles program is the first step in making sure everyone has health teeth.
“For the most part children’s teeth aren’t bad,” Currie said.
“We do see children in a bad way. Some have cavities some have more than others do. If they start young with healthy teeth and they get some education as to how to keep their teeth healthy then there are going to have their teeth healthy for the rest of their lives.”
She said it can be difficult to tell a child that they can’t help them because they don’t have programs to assist everyone.
But she and many other dental hygienist work hard to try and find a dentist who will see them, she said.
Click here to report a typo or error
You must log in to add comments.
Create a new account
Remember me next time.