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Canadian Children Need Improved Access to Quality Dental Care

OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 01/11/13 -- All children and youth in Canada need equal access to oral health care, regardless of where they live or their family's socioeconomic status, said the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) in a statement published today.

The number of Canadian children with dental decay is on the rise: 57 per cent of children between 6 and 11 years old have had a cavity, and the removal of teeth affected by caries is the most common surgical procedure among preschoolers in Canadian paediatric hospitals. The evidence is clear: Preventive dental visits improve oral health and reduce costs later. Yet as the amount of public funding for dental care decreases, many families have to pay out-of-pocket. Without dental insurance, these costs may be prohibitive.

"Provincial and territorial programs for coverage for children's oral health care are incredibly varied," said Dr. Anne Rowan-Legg, author of the statement and member of the CPS Community Paediatrics Committee. For example, in Alberta and British Columbia children and youth from low-income families are eligible for basic dental coverage up to 18 years, while in Nova Scotia similar coverage ends at age 10. "No matter where they live, all Canadian children deserve to have the same access to preventive and treatment-based dental care."

The CPS wants provincial/territorial governments to work with their dental associations and leaders to develop an oral health strategy to ensure that all children have access to quality dental care.

Untreated dental disease can cause oral pain and have devastating effect on a child, including poor growth and nutrition, infections, behavioural and learning problems.

"Oral health plays a very important role in a child's communication, socialization, and self-esteem, and really should be considered as part of a child's overall medical health," said Dr. Rowan-Legg.

The Canadian Paediatric Society is a national professional association that promotes the health needs of children and youth. Founded in 1922, the CPS represents more than 3,000 paediatricians, paediatric subspecialists and other child health professionals across Canada.

To access the full statement, e-mail [email protected].

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