Dental treatment has not yet been included in publicly funded health care, despite being suggested in the 1964 Royal Commission on Health Services, which contributed to design our modern health care system. Due to this, over one-third of Canadians do not have dental insurance, which has negative effects on their health and creates glaring disparities.
According to the evidence, dental care should be included in Canada's current system since it is medically important, will reduce long-term expenditures, and will improve accessibility and comprehensiveness. Now is the ideal time to include dental coverage in the system of public health care because the Health Accord is about to expire and there are enough dental experts available. We spoke to Altima Hamilton Dental Centre who provided further insight into this matter.
Canadians must have private insurance, which is typically obtained through work or out-of-pocket spending, in order to pay for dental services. Almost a third of Canadians had no dental insurance at all, according to the 2010 Canadian Health Measures Survey, which indicated that 62% of Canadians obtained insurance coverage and 6% received treatment through publicly sponsored programs.
Only low-income children receive the majority of the limited public dental care that does exist, leaving others and underserved populations without access to treatment. As a result, individuals who really need treatment the most are not able to obtain it, which is a shortcoming of the existing system. Only 71% of the inhabitants of Ontario, the region with the greatest dental visit numbers, visited a dentist in 2012 due to the absence of treatment care from publicly financed health care.
Dental treatment is a medical need, in addition to the irrationality of not obtaining healthcare for our mouths while receiving it for every other part of our body. Dental conditions are among the most prevalent infectious disorders worldwide. The link between oral and overall health, as well as the fact that several health problems can first be detected in the mouth, are supported by a large body of research.
For instance, a severe gum infection may be one of the early symptoms of AIDS, and tooth loss may be one of the earliest signs of osteoporosis. Additionally, dental exams can detect immunological problems, microbial infections, nutritional deficits, and oral malignancies.
Ailments inside the body can affect our dental health, but the opposite is also true: our oral health can influence other parts of our body. The management of diabetes can be complicated by infections brought on by poor oral hygiene, while the care of end-stage renal illness might be complicated by systemic inflammation brought on by periodontitis.
Additional research has connected poor dental health to pneumonia, Alzheimer's disease, early labor, low birth weight newborns, and respiratory illnesses. Even if some diseases have a negative effect on oral wellness, the health service does not provide essential dental treatment as a result. An illustration of such effects is the enamel hypoplasia, xerostomia, calcifications, and altered salivary pH that chronic renal illness has on the mouth.
Vulnerable groups like seniors, members of indigenous peoples, and those with low incomes make up a large portion of the uninsured Canadian population. Due to the potentially exorbitant expenses without dental insurance, having it is the best indicator of dental service consumption. Because people with middle- to high-paying occupations are more likely to have access to oral treatment than those with lower incomes, the existing insurance system deepens this gap between the poor and the rich.
Given the huge rise in dental care expenditures over the last 25 years and the relative stability of low-income individuals' wages, the problem may be getting worse. Most Canadians depend on employer-provided dental insurance, although rates of part-time and temporary employment are rising, which has also led to a decline in this benefit.
Lack of access to dental care has increased the usage of costly urgent health care settings to treat dental emergencies that are best handled in a main dental care environment and are preventable. The cost of these urgent dental appointments in Ontario in 2006 was $16.4 million.
These emergency room visits and hospital admissions, which seem to be expensive treatment alternatives for curable oral health issues, rise as a result of these acute care visits. It encourages the use of inexpensive preventative care solutions to give people better access to routine dental care through coverage.
The timing is right for the roll-out of universal dental coverage, as it has been demanded by numerous groups, such as the Canadian Association of Public Health Dentistry. The Health Accord, which was signed ten years ago, specified how much money the federal government would give the provinces for healthcare coverage.
To Sum it up
It has been established that dental treatment should be included in our public health care system because it is medically required, will increase accessibility and comprehensiveness, and will lower long-term expenses.
The Health Accord has expired, and because there is no longer a lack of dental professionals, it is time to rethink the federal government's role in health care. Our all-encompassing healthcare system was always intended to include dental care, so it is time to put this much-needed coverage into place.