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- Area Residents Asked to Join Call for Expanding Dental-Support Programs to Include Adults and Seniors -

Adding your name to a petition is one way to help ease the dental pain felt by some low-income earners in the community.

The Northumberland Oral Health Coalition and the Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock Chapter of the Ontario Oral Health Alliance are asking local residents to sign a petition calling on the Ontario government to expand publicly-funded dental assistance programs to cover low-income adults and seniors. It’s part of a province-wide effort to fix the current situation that sees most publicly-funded dental assistance programs limited to youth 17 years of age and under.

While the Ontario government has promised to expand dental coverage to adults and seniors by 2025, the petition calls for that to be done within two years. Local coalition member Anna Rusak says investing now in an expanded dental program makes sense when there is a need for this type of assistance.

“Many low-income adults with serious dental problems suffer in pain now because they cannot afford to see a dental professional for proper help and care,” says Rusak, who is also a Health Promoter with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. “As a result, these individuals have no choice but to seek treatment at a hospital emergency room (ER). Usually, all the ER staff can do is prescribe painkillers and antibiotics, which can help with pain, but doesn’t address the root cause of the problem.”

According to the Ontario Oral Health Alliance, every nine minutes someone in Ontario winds up in a hospital ER with a dental problem, costing the health care system approximately $31 million every year with no treatment of the problem. Locally, based on data obtained from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care,it is estimated that  the Northumberland Oral Health Coalition calculated 1,786 visits were made for dental problems to ERs at hospitals in Cobourg, Campbellford, Lindsay and Haliburton in 2012.

“We know that adults and seniors who need dental care, but can’t afford to see the dentist, are falling through the cracks,” Rusak says. “Let’s take action to have programs in place that support proper oral care for all people, no matter their age. It certainly will save unnecessary hospital visits and reduce health care costs in the long run.”

Petitions are currently available:

• In Port Hope at the Health Unit office (200 Rose Glen Rd.) and the Port Hope Northumberland Community Health Centre (99 Toronto Rd.).

• In Cobourg at the Northumberland Dental Hygiene Clinic (297 Division St.).

• In Lindsay at the Health Unit office (108 Angeline St. S.).

• In Haliburton at the Health Unit office (191 Highland Dr.).

Later this fall, the signed petitions will be presented to local MPPs.

People can also visit the Ontario Association of Public Health Dentistry websiteto send an electronic message directly to Ontario Health Minister Erik Hoskins asking that publicly-funded dental support programs be expanded to cover adults and seniors.

For media inquiries, contact:

Anna Rusak, Oral Health Promoter, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100 or toll-free: 1-866-888-4577.

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«January 2019»