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  • News
  • April 27, 2016

Ontario Expands Free Dental Care for Eligible Children and Youth

Newly Integrated Dental Program Makes It Easier to Access Services

SCARBOROUGH – On April 27, 2016, Mitzie Hunter, MPP of Scarborough-Guildwood visited the Scarborough Centre Ontario Early Years Centre located at Markham Rd and Lawrence Avenue East to speak to parents and children about the new Healthy Smiles Ontario program.

More than 323,000 children from low-income families are getting free dental care through the Healthy Smiles Ontario program. Under the expanded program, Ontario is providing free dental care to help families raise healthier kids. Children from low-income families can access free preventive, routine, emergency and essential care from licensed dental providers.

All smiles, in a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere, MPP Hunter spoke to children ages 0 to 6 years old, along with their parents and staff of the daycare centre about the new dental program. Emphasis was put on the importance of healthy teeth and the Government of Ontario’s commitment to ensuring children grow up to live healthy lives, no matter their circumstances.

Ontario has integrated six publicly funded dental programs into one, providing a simplified enrolment process and making it easier for eligible children to get the care they need. These changes also mean that 70,000 more children from low-income families have become eligible for free dental services. Applicants can now sign up for this program online at ontario.ca/healthysmiles. They can also contact their local public health unit for information and support.

Research demonstrates that untreated oral health problems can affect a child’s ability to eat, sleep and concentrate in school, which can impact their growth and development. The new Healthy Smiles Ontario program is part of Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy commitment to build community capacity to deliver oral health prevention and treatment services to children and youth from low-income families in Ontario.

Investing in dental care for children and youth is part of the government's plan to build a better Ontario through its Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care, which provides patients with faster access to the right care; better home and community care; the information they need to live healthy; and a health care system that is sustainable for generations to come.

With Ontario flags passed around the room, the announcement was made and received positively by all at the Scarborough Centre Ontario Early Years Centre. MPP Hunter then read to the children ABC, ABC What Do You See, a children’s book by Jill Javelosa-Alvarez, a former staff at the Scarborough Centre Ontario Early Years Centre.

Quick Facts

  • Tooth decay is one of the most prevalent and preventable chronic diseases, particularly among children. It is the leading cause of day surgeries for children ages one to five and rates are four times higher for children from the least (versus the most) affluent neighbourhoods.
  • Healthy Smiles Ontario covers regular visits to a licensed dental provider, such as a dentist or dental hygienist. It covers dental services including check-ups, cleaning, fillings, X-rays, and urgent/emergency oral health issues.
  • Ontario engaged in significant consultation with community and public health partners as well as dental associations to develop the new Healthy Smiles Ontario program.

Background Information

Additional Resources

QUOTES

“We are making it easier for children to get the dental care they need because having good oral health and a healthy smile can have positive impacts on a child’s overall health, self-esteem and ability to learn. Families are encouraged to visit ontario.ca/healthysmiles to find out if they’re eligible and to enrol in this program. Tooth decay is one of the most common childhood diseases, but it’s preventable with the proper dental care, and our expanded Healthy Smiles program is helping more kids access these important services.” 

— Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

 

"Scarborough-Guildwood deserves the best in health care and that includes dental health! A confident smile brings out the best in all of us and Ontario is ensuring children and youth from low-income families receive the best of dental care no matter their circumstances. With the Healthy Smiles Ontario program eligible children and youth from low-income families will have access to comprehensive and free dental services!"

— Mitzie Hunter, MPP Scarborough-Guildwood

 

“A healthy smile on a child not only gives a visual idea of a child’s oral health but it also reflects the critical issue of a healthy child free from the pain and health consequences of dental disease, including cavities and gum disease. We’re helping low-income families to raise healthier kids by getting them the dental care they need and the smile they deserve.”

— Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario

 

“Ontario’s dentists support and advocate for accessible dental care for all. The ODA was pleased when the government streamlined six children’s oral-care programs into the Healthy Smiles Ontario program. Eliminating duplication and creating a single program means more children and youth can go to school with a healthy smile. We will continue to work with the government to ensure sustainable and equitable funding for dental programs.”

— Dr. Victor Kutcher, President, Ontario Dental Association

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