Thousands of Hamiltonians don’t have access to dental coverage, and both they and their children are suffering from serious oral health ailments as a result, Hamilton’s Medical of Officer of Health states in a report to Council this week.
Dr. Elizabeth Richardson says the lack of access to dental care means thousands of Hamiltonians are forced to suffer from oral health issues such as tooth decay until they become a medical emergency requiring intervention at local hospitals; often tooth extraction and treatment for related ailments that get covered by OHIP.
Statistics are particularly bleak for thousands of children who require tooth removal each year from day surgery units at local hospitals, and the situation is worsening.
Dr. Richardson says public health dental staff screened 17,122 elementary students in the 2016/17 school year; 1471 kids needed urgent dental care, another 3244 needed preventive dental care.
The statistics for Grade 2 students are very concerning, 42% have a history of tooth decay, 1 in 10 “require urgent dental care”, and nine schools report “very high rates of untreated cavities”.
42% of Grade 2 students have a history of tooth decay, 1-in-10 Grade 2 students require urgent dental care, and nine of our schools – the majority of them in the Lower City – have “very high rates of untreated cavities”.
There’s another trend the report is revealing, as the Lower City gentrifies as Real Estate Investment Trusts drive up rental rates, lower income families are being forced to move into the poorly serviced suburbs.
Dr. Richardson says her public health division is working to expand their free dental programs to serve more patients each year; and expand the availability of preventative dental care.