Canadian Paediatric Society Calls for Changes to Oral Health Care for Canadian Children

February 6, 2013

A recent statement by the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) evaluates the current status of pediatric dental health in Canada and finds that children, particularly those who are disadvantaged, have a high rate of dental disease. The position statement calls for equal access to oral health care for children and youth in Canada, regardless of where they live or their family’s socioeconomic status.

Dr. Anne Rowan-Legg, author of the statement says, “Provincial and territorial programs for coverage for children’s oral health care are incredibly varied. No matter where they live, all Canadian children deserve to have the same access to preventive and treatment-based dental care.”

“CDA strongly shares the CPS’s goal of improved access to care for all Canadian children,” says Dr. Robert Sutherland, CDA president. “Children’s oral health care has been a priority for CDA for a number of years and we are actively addressing this issue. Our current focus is on reducing early childhood caries (ECC), reducing hospital wait times for the treatment of ECC and promoting the first visit to the dentist by age one,” he notes.

The CPS statement notes that high rates of dental disease are seen disproportionately in children of lower socioeconomic status, those in Aboriginal communities and new immigrants. Disparities in oral health care status can be attributed, in part, to the barriers to dental care faced by these segments of the population, including lack of dental insurance and low public financing for oral health care.

“CDA continues to examine all aspects of oral health care for Canadian children and is working with key stakeholder groups—including the Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the provincial and territorial dental associations and others—on this important issue,” says Dr. Sutherland.

CPS’s recommendations for provincial, territorial and federal governments include:

  1. Ensure that every child has a dental home by age 1.
  2. Support the CPS and CDA recommendations on fluoride supplementation.
  3. Create leadership positions to represent the specific interests of children and youth on oral health issues.
  4. Develop an ongoing surveillance system to capture key data and reflect the state of pediatric oral health.

To read the full CPS statement, visit www.cps.ca.

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