Over the past decades, oral health care in Quebec and Canada has improved a lot, in particular thanks to the dedicated work of our dentists and dental hygienists and the public’s enthusiasm for these services. However, the inability to pay of a growing part of the population is very real and documented.
Despite unprecedented quality of care, more than a quarter (27%) of Quebecers go without oral care for financial reasons.
In Canada, private and public insurance plans condition access to these services to a certain extent. For example, Canadians who do not have a dental insurance program are three times more likely to avoid seeing a dental professional because of the cost than those who do have a dental insurance program (39.1% vs. 13.7% %).
Unfortunately, for many people in our society, the cost and other barriers to accessing care add to an already weakened state of health. In Quebec, the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) only covers certain services for children under 10, and there is no universal coverage for older children.
For example, students of 6e years whose mother has not completed high school are twice as likely to show a clear need for caries treatment as students whose mother has a postsecondary diploma (21.5% vs. 8.3 %). In these children, compromised access to oral health services can lead to quality of life consequences, such as pain, abscess or tooth loss. The consequences can be tragic.
Science is increasingly documenting the interconnection of dental and general health issues.
Oral health is an essential component of the general health of an individual, and recent scientific data tell us about the two-way links that exist, in particular, between inflammation of the gums and metabolic disorders such as diabetes.
However, recent data on the oral health status of Canadians is lacking since the most recent survey dates back to 2007. In this context, we applaud the excellent initiative of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research which, at the same time $ 3.3 million will fund the next pan-Canadian oral health survey. The survey will take place in 2022-2023 and is part of the larger framework of the Canadian Health Measures Survey, and will thus allow the study of the links between oral health and general health.
Such up-to-date data is essential for mobilizing dental professionals, the public and our governments, in order to reduce social inequalities in health and correct systemic inequities in the provision of oral health services. Cheers !In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.
* Félix Girard is associate professor at the faculty of dentistry at the University of Montreal. Aimée Brennan-Dawson is an associate professor in the faculty of dentistry at Laval University. Paul Allison is a professor in the faculty of dentistry at McGill University.