UBC study: low income groups need affordable dental care
According to a new UBC study, all Canadians especially the lowest-income groups should have dental care as part of their basic health care plan. Researchers surveyed 567 clients from four major health care clinics in Ontario and British Columbia that served a large number of Aboriginal and low-income groups. Close to half (46 percent) of the participants considered their oral health being fair to poor and about the same number (44 Percent) said they often have pain in their mouth and teeth. “Those numbers are three times higher than the general Canadian population as reported by the Canadian Health Measures Survey–clearly, the people we interviewed face tremendous oral health issues,” said UBC nursing professor Annette Browne, who led the study. Browne said many of the participants may have underestimated their dental issues mainly because they were already tackling other social and health problems due to their financial burden.The research also revealed that individuals with fair oral health had difficulty eating a variety of foods due to missing teeth. Co-researcher and UBC PhD graduate, Bruce Wallace, says the findings indicate the necessity for affordable dental services for some of Canada’s low-income groups. Wallace said, economically disadvantaged groups have no dental insurance and have only access to public dental health benefits. Therefore, they often skip dental work due to the cost and other problems. “No one should have to depend on charitable dentistry or volunteer dental clinics. We need to integrate oral health benefits within universal health insurance and consider offering dental care in alternate health care settings, such as community health care centres,” said Wallace.