Oral hygiene is an important part of overall health, especially as you age. Senior dental care is just as important as any other health prevention, however cost is often a prohibitive factor that keeps many seniors away from the dentist.
Unfortunately, Canada also has one of the lowest rates of publicly funded dental care in the world, and since almost all dental care is funded privately through employer-based insurance (or out of pocket), non-coverage becomes an issue as people age and retire.
Whether or not cost is a prohibitive factor for your oral health, check out the following programs and tips on how to get the best senior dental care in Canada:
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Although dental care is not included in Canadian Medicare, there are several federal programs in place to assist groups of seniors. Veterans Affairs Canada provides financial support for senior dental care to qualified veterans. They may also reimburse travel costs incurred to receive dental treatments.
The Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) program also provides a full range of preventative and restorative dental care to eligible First Nations and Inuit people.
Although not all provinces and territories provide dental benefits, several have comprehensive programs that are geared towards seniors. Alberta has a well-respected public dental program that is best known for its commitment to seniors’ oral health. As well, Nunavut and Northwest Territories offer inclusive coverage for seniors.
British Columbia and Prince Edward Island both offer coverage for seniors living in long-term care facilities. British Columbia is offering this as a pilot project, with hopes of expanding senior dental care in the future.
Many regions, such as Peel Public Health in Ontario, offer dental coverage for low-income, uninsured seniors.
As well, the 10 dental schools in Canada are committed to improving access to care. The dental faculties at the University of Manitoba, University of Toronto and Western University have well established programs that provide excellent and affordable dental services at reduced rates.
For those individuals where cost is not a prohibitive factor, there are senior-specific dentistry practitioners whose focus is on issues common to seniors, including:
These specialists can recommend assistive devices and techniques for seniors with conditions that may make flossing or grasping a toothbrush difficult. They also offer special treatment plans for seniors with failing or missing teeth.
Denture care, for instance, is a vitally important aspect of oral health, and dentures must be cared for as carefully as you would look after natural teeth. Complete or partial dentures must be cleaned everyday and soaked each night in specialized cleanser. This will help to remove food build up, plaque and tartar.
Tending to your gums and natural teeth that support your dentures will help to prevent gum disease and will ensure your dentures will fit securely and comfortably.
Health becomes a major priority in life as we age, and oral health is no exception. Dental care in Canada varies vastly from coast to coast, however with a little ‘drilling’ you can find helpful resources and programs that are specific to seniors.
Have you come across a dental program that helped you improve or gain access to better oral health?