Access-to-care initiatives by provincial dental associations

The following are just a few of the preventive oral health initiatives being undertaken by provincial dental associations. Many of these initiatives are intended to decrease barriers to clinical oral health delivery for vulnerable population groups.

British Columbia: The British Columbia Dental Association (BCDA)—in conjunction with the University of British Columbia (UBC)—completed a project that showed the value of having a dentally-trained coordinator working with long-term care facilities to improve the oral health outcomes of frail seniors. The pilot results will be used in BCDA's continuing advocacy efforts to improve access to care for seniors, including a dental plan for low-income seniors. The BCDA also runs the bi-annual Your Dental Health (YDH) public education campaign with the goal of increasing the overall demand for dental care and the value of regular dental exams.

Alberta: To help increase seniors' access to oral health care, the Alberta Dental Association and College has purchased two mobile dental clinics. A 12-metre mobile clinic with three dental chairs is used to provide fee-for-service dental services on-site by a team of dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants.

Manitoba: Healthy Smile Happy Child (HSHC) is a partnership that takes an upstream approach to engage communities in preventing early childhood caries and promoting of early childhood oral health. The program was developed in response to a high prevalence of early childhood cavities as well as long wait times for pediatric dental surgery under general anaesthesia.

Saskatchewan: The province has seen success with an initiative that provides oral health care to seniors in long-term care facilities through a coalition of interested parties, including the University of Saskatchewan College of Dentistry, the College of Dental Surgeons of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Dental Assistants' Association, the Saskatchewan Dental Hygienists' Association, the Saskatchewan Dental Therapists Association, the Saskatoon Health Region and the Saskatoon Oral Health Coalition.

Ontario: There are several public education campaigns aimed at oral health awareness. TVOKids has launched a show (featuring scripts written by the Ontario Dental Association) in response to rising rates of tooth decay in young kids in Ontario. The show highlights good oral health habits and the importance of parent involvement in tooth brushing.

Nova Scotia: There are annual public education campaigns aimed at public oral health awareness focusing on specific issues such as sugar reduction. Two public education websites, HealthyTeeth.org,for children in grades 3 to 6, and HealthyTeeth+ targeted to seniors and their caregivers, provide helpful advice. Annually, the association issues a provincial oral health report to the public and government highlighting one aspect of oral health and providing dentistry's recommendations for improvement.

New Brunswick: The New Brunswick Dental Society encourages the implementation of health treatment rooms in long-term care (seniors) facilities around the province.  These treatment rooms are equipped with dental equipment (often donated) and allow a local dentist and/or hygienist to regularly provide oral health care on-site for the residents. 

Prince Edward Island: The Dental Association of Prince Edward Island has a Free First Visit campaign where children as young as 6 months may visit one of our member dentists at no charge for an initial examination and talk to parents on the need for good oral care even of deciduous teeth and prevention of early childhood caries (ECC). This is up to the age of 3 when they become covered under the provincial governments children's dental plan. Brochures and toothbrushes on EEC are distributed on behalf of the association by public health nurses in government health centers.

Newfoundland and Labrador: The Newfoundland and Labrador Dental Association (NLDA) has with the cooperation and funding from government developed a universal program to cover children from birth to 13 years. This program has been active and supported for ten years and we are seeing positive results. While children are visiting the dentist at the same rate as they did when the program was first introduced the costs are reducing because the state of children's oral health has dramatically improved. Furthermore, the NLDA has an outreach program that takes dentists into the classroom or to children focused trade shows as a method of getting the message out. For seniors the NLDA is in negotiations with the provincial government to open dental clinics in long- term care facilities.