FOR MANY SENIORS, access to dental coverage plans – or the extra income to pay for a visit to the dentist – can be hard to come by. A recent CARP poll found that only 37 per cent of members are enrolled in a private dental plan, leaving the rest to pay for it out of pocket or seek government relief. Canadian provinces, however, don’t seem interested in paying for dental services. With the exception of income-tested coverage in Alberta, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, the public proportion of dental care expenditures in Canada (six per cent) is very low. Japan and Finland pay publicly for 70 to 80 per cent of dental care while Sweden and New Zealand pay 30 to 40 per cent. Without coverage, it’s common for low-income seniors to delay or forgo necessary dental care, simply because they cannot afford the costs. “Dental care is health care,” says Wanda Morris, CARP’s vice-president of advocacy. “Not only does proper dental care ensure seniors can eat, smile and remain socially engaged but new research shows diseased gums and missing teeth can lead to poor health outcomes. It’s why dental programs for lowincome seniors must be a priority for all jurisdictions.” (For more on dental care, read Moses Znaimer’s Zoomer Philosophy: “We Came, We Saw, We Chewed”) online at www.everythingzoomer.com/zoomer-philosophy-21.