Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

March 20, 2007 13:12 ET

CDHA: Federal Budget Neglects Oral Health Issues

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - March 20, 2007) - The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA) gives thumbs down to the federal government's lack of leadership on a pan-Canadian approach to oral health. Executive Director Susan Ziebarth says, "There is a large portion of society with no access to oral health services. Many people including low-income individuals, the working poor, seniors, and those without oral health insurance cannot afford oral health services." With research indicating a strong link between oral health and general health, more people are realizing the importance of maintaining good oral health across their lifespan.

Canada ranks second lowest in per capita public oral health expenditures of all OECD countries. This signals a need for a federal government investment in oral health. We are not suggesting the creation of an "oral sick care" system, which treats disease after is arises, but an oral health promotion and disease prevention system. There is strong evidence for the effectiveness of this approach. CDHA joins the National Anti-Poverty Organization in a call for a national oral health care program to address oral health disparities between low-income and other Canadians.

Federal leadership must also tackle the disjointed approach to public oral health across Canada. Public health dental hygienists conduct oral health screenings in schools and teach children how to take care of their teeth and gums. We need to expand these programs, since children with oral health problems become adults with oral health problems. These individuals cannot be productive members of our society without relief from the chronic pain from oral infections. Geographic disparities in seniors' public oral health programs must be addressed through an expansion of programs, which currently exist only in Alberta, Prince Edward Island, and the Northwest Territories. The federal government must collaborate with the provinces to ensure effective long-term change that will lead to positive oral health outcomes for all citizens.

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