New Health Unit dental clinic offers free services for uninsured children
SIMCOE, MAY 31, 2012 – Early childhood dental decay rates are rising, but the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is optimistic that its recently opened free preventive dental clinic will help reverse that trend.
The new clinic, located in the Health Unit’s office at 12 Gilbertson Drive in Simcoe, provides a variety of preventive dental services to children and teens without any other form of dental insurance. Registered Dental Hygienists will clean teeth, apply fluoride, coat teeth with sealants, and teach kids the proper way to brush and floss, all at no cost to the patients.
“A child’s oral health is an important part of their overall health, so we’re happy to be able to offer these services to those who would otherwise not be able to afford them,” noted Danielle Smale, a Registered Dental Hygienist with the Health Unit.
The significance of a child’s dental health was highlighted in Breaking the Cycle: Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy (2008). The report also cited studies showing that individuals with low incomes have tooth decay rates and treatment needs that are as much as three times higher than people at higher income levels.
The Ontario government committed $45 million per year to increase access to dental services for low-income families across the province. The new preventive dental clinic in Simcoe, and a similar one slated to open in Dunnville later this summer, are one part of the local implementation to meet this need.
In addition to the preventive clinics, other public health dental programs and services received a boost.
A new program, Healthy Smiles Ontario, was recently rolled out by health units. This preventive program allows children from families with an annual net family income of less than $20 000 to receive regular dental services, including cleanings, fillings, x-rays and other services at dentist offices at regular intervals, just as families with dental insurance would do.
The government funding also allowed for the expansion of the Children in Need of Treatment (CINOT) program, which allows children who have urgent dental needs and no access to dental insurance access to a dentist to have their cavities restored or teeth extracted. The CINOT program was previously only available for children age 0-14, but now provides coverage up to age 17.
“If you don’t have dental insurance and are finding it difficult to afford dental treatment for your children, we most likely have a program that can help,” added Smale.
Local residents are encouraged to contact the Dental Team at the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit at 519-426-6170 ex 3249 to find out which program your family qualifies for, and to book a no-cost appointment with a Registered Dental Hygienist.
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Registered Dental Hygienist
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3249 at 519-426-6170 or Ext. 364 at 905-318-6623