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Thursday, 9 August 2012

Dental public health - an unsung group of Canadian heroes

A news item out of Quebec is one of the few positive stories recently for the somewhat marginalized dental public health community Dental coverage extended to age 16.  Even DrPHealth can be accussed of not providing adequate attention to what is one of the great Canadian public health stories – the huge success in ensuring healthier mouths throughout life through proper hygiene, fluoride, nutrition and care.  While the controversies around fluoride surface frequently DRPHealth on fluoridation , the ongoing successes of dental public health are not sufficiently celebrated.

Do check out the Canadian Dental Public Heath Officer’s report at Canada CPDO report   Quietly hidden in the number that the average number of teeth effected by decay in Canadian children is 2.5, is that amongst the previous generations these numbers were four or more times higher.  It is this reduction which is the unsung public health success.  

Most public health entities retain some vestige of oral health prevention services which often require constant self-justification.  The Canadian Association of Public Health Dentistry is a national professional group for all public health dental professionals.  On their website is a link to a variety of dental public health reports in Canada CAPHD site for links  including the 2012 Ontario CMHO annual report which focused on dental public health however the link is broken and is provided here Ontario CMOH report 2012 .

Collectively, all public health workers need to express gratitude to the dental community for their work, and support for the key areas that need ongoing emphasis, namely:
  • ·         Universal access to dental coverage and preventative care for children across Canada
  • ·         Reducing the current burden of dental ill-health carried by Aboriginal populations
  • ·         Improving oral health services for street oriented populations and those economically challenged
  • ·         Improving oral health services for aging persons.

To this should be added a refined strategy to make widespread the utilization of preventative measures such as water fluoridation, childhood varnishes, and targeted childhood sealants.  

Be sure to send a smile to your dental health co-workers.  Their phenomenal Canadian success is buried in the history books. Their ongoing challenge to be acknowledged, appreciated and supported by the rest of the public health community.  

Today, lets celebrate Quebec's good fortune in once again demonstrating a commitment to both the public's health and to children.  


  1. Great post Dr P! Our dental colleagues are wonderful -- especially Sharon Melanson who helped to get Kelowna's homeless dental program established.

    Definite gaps still exist. I have a friend on federal disability, and he doesn't have any dental coverage. One day he'll be a customer at the free clinic but will have to have an extraction rather than repair since the clinic can only offer basic services.

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