C-K health board sup­ports den­tal care for low-in­come earn­ers, se­niors

Board mem­bers ap­prove sub­mit­ting res­o­lu­tion

The Chatham Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - TREVOR TERFLOTH TTer­floth@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/@Dai­lyNewsTT

The Chatham-Kent Board of Health threw its sup­port be­hind a res­o­lu­tion to lobby for ex­ten­sion of pub­licly funded den­tal care to low-in­come adults and se­niors.

Last year, the Healthy Smiles On­tario pro­gram was ex­panded to help chil­dren in low-in­come fam­i­lies, re­gard­less of any parental em­ployee ben­e­fits.

But that didn’t cover work­ing poor adults or se­niors, the health unit said in a re­port to the board Wed­nes­day.

Those groups are of­ten in­el­i­gi­ble for cov­er­age un­der On­tario Works or the On­tario Dis­abil­ity Sup­port Pro­gram, and lack em­ploy­er­spon­sored ben­e­fits.

“Oral health im­pacts your whole health,” said Teresa Bendo, di­rec­tor of pub­lic health. “We have a sig­nif­i­cant pop­u­la­tion in ChathamKent that do not have ac­cess to den­tal care.”

The board’s re­port said this marginal­ized pop­u­la­tion of­ten has to choose be­tween pay­ing for rent, util­i­ties or gro­ceries, and den­tal care.

Bendo said lack of oral health care can have a rip­ple ef­fect on a per­son’s life and well-be­ing.

“It im­pacts their op­por­tu­ni­ties for em­ploy­ment. It im­pacts their abil­ity to eat well,” she said.

Chatham-Kent will make a res­o­lu­tion to the As­so­ci­a­tion of Lo­cal Pub­lic Health Agen­cies to ask the prov­ince to ex­pand the ser­vice.

Ac­cord­ing to the Cana­dian Acad­emy of Health Ser­vices, one per­son in five does not visit a den­tal care provider due to cost.

The re­port said when peo­ple can’t af­ford oral care, they typ­i­cally visit their fam­ily doc­tor or the emer­gency room for an­tibi­otics or pain med­i­ca­tions that don’t ad­dress the root cause of the prob­lem.

In On­tario, there were more than 60,000 vis­its to emer­gency rooms specif­i­cally for oral health prob­lems last year, re­sult­ing in an ap­prox­i­mate cost of $31 mil­lion.

The prov­ince pledged to ex­pand oral health ser­vices start­ing in 2025, but the re­port said this was too long a wait for low-in­come earn­ers.

Chatham Coun. Bob My­ers, a health board mem­ber, agreed with mov­ing for­ward on the is­sue.

“I think it’s about time that some­thing like this hap­pens,” he said.

TREVOR TERFLOTH/THE DAILY NEWS

Teresa Bendo, Chatham-Kent's di­rec­tor of pub­lic health, is shown at Wed­nes­day's board meet­ing. The board backed a res­o­lu­tion call­ing for ex­ten­sion of pub­licly funded oral health care to low-in­come adults and se­niors.

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