The Newfoundland and Labrador Dental Association (NLDA) reached a tentative agreement with the provincial government to extend the Children’s Dental Health Program for an additional 4 years.
All Newfoundland and Labrador children age 12 and under are eligible for universal access to dental care services under this program. Similarly, children between ages 13 to 17 whose families receive government income support benefits also qualify for this dental coverage.
The program, originally implemented in 2006, has resulted in a significant increase in patient loads for dentists in the province. “Dentists were very pleased to see children who they had not treated before,” says Mr. Anthony Patey, NLDA executive director. “This program removed the financial barrier to access to care and its positive long term impact on the children of Newfoundland and Labrador has been considerable.”
Although Mr. Patey views the extension of the program as a positive accomplishment, he had hoped that the provincial government would extend universal access to dental care for all children under age 18. “This next group of children would have already been visiting the dentist for the past 4 years and would now be coming in primarily for maintenance,” he notes.
A deficit budget did not permit the government to make any extensions on age limits, however the types of services covered will now include composite fillings. The recent agreement will also provide an increase of almost 20% to the compensation levels received by dentists who participate in the program.
For more information on the provincial Children’s Dental Health Program, visit www.health.gov.nl.ca/health/mcp/dentalplan.htmll.