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The Cost of a Smile

Author: Bonnie Densmore

Health care is a fundamental human right, and dental care is health care, so why doesn’t the Canadian government treat it as such?

Dental Coverage in Canada

Canada has a publicly funded health care system which provides Canadians with coverage for many healthcare services. However, dental care is not included in this coverage, which means Canadians need to pay out-of-pocket for any dental services that they receive. This includes regular check-ups, cleanings, cavity fillings, orthodontic treatments, etc. In many cases, individuals receive private insurance, usually through employment opportunities, to help pay for these services. While this is often sufficient for individuals with secure employment positions, this bars anyone without the financial means from accessing dental services.

What does this mean?

According to the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, approximately six million Canadians avoid visiting the dentist every year due to the cost of dental services (Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, 2014). Additionally, a disproportionate number of these individuals are members of vulnerable groups, who already experience higher rates of other health problems, illnesses, and barriers to seeking other types of care. Consequently, these individuals are more likely to have untreated dental decay, gum disease, missing teeth, and dental pain (Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, 2014).

Why should we care?

Oral health is important for an individual’s overall health and wellbeing, and regularly accessing dental services is a key component to maintaining good oral health. Aside from the oral complications that can arise, insufficient dental care and monitoring have also been associated with other adverse health outcomes. In particular, poor oral health has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer (Oral health basics: Symptoms, types, causes & more 2019). While brushing and flossing are important for maintaining oral health, they are only one piece of the puzzle. Regular dentist visits are crucial for early detection and treatment of any oral problems before they can progress further.


Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, 2014. Improving access to oral health care for vulnerable people living in Canada.

Oral health basics: Symptoms, types, causes & more. (2019, March 08). Retrieved March 16, 2021, from

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