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ORAL OUTREACH

- Health Unit to Promote Oral Health Services, Financial-Support Programs to Clients of Local Food Banks -

Canned goods, packaged products and other food items will not be the only things available for people using local food banks this spring.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is reaching out to food bank clients in Cobourg, Port Hope, Hastings, Campbellford, Warkworth, Bewdley, Brighton, Lindsay, Little Britain, Omemee, Bobcaygeon, Dunsford Minden and elsewhere around the region. During Oral Health Month in April and over the ensuing weeks, Health Unit staff will be visiting local food banks to distribute toothbrushes and other oral health resources. Special efforts will also be made to share information with local families about financial-support programs that can offset the costs of dental treatment.

One of these is the Healthy Smiles Ontario program, which can cover the costs of preventive and early dental treatment for children and teens up to age of 17 years.

“Our goal is to talk up the importance of good oral health and provide information about Health Unit programs and services that may be able to benefit local residents,” says Anna Rusak, an Oral Health Promoter with the HKPR District Health Unit.

To date, local food bank operators have been very supportive of the Health Unit’s outreach. According to Rusak, making connections with people through area food banks is also beneficial for the Health Unit.

“Frequently, people only call us when there is an emergency,” Rusak notes. “We’re hoping that through this initiative, we can reach more people before there is a problem by providing them with information about preventive dental services and programs.”

In addition to Healthy Smiles Ontario, the Health Unit also administers two other dental support programs – the Children in Need of Treatment program and the Ontario Works Dental Program. Between the various financial-support programs, hundreds of thousands of dollars are available each year to help local families cover the costs of urgent and preventive dental care. For more information about oral health and financial-support programs, local residents are encouraged to call the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577.

According to a recent Public Health Ontario report, among Ontarians who did not visit a dentist in the past three years, one in five people cited cost as a barrier.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Anna Rusak, Health Promoter, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100, ext. 216.

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