The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit reports a significant drop in adult emergency department oral-health related visits in 2018.
A Health Unit report indicates North Bay adults made 630 dental-related visits to the emergency department in 2018, down from 800 the previous year, resulting in a reduction of 170 dental-related visits.
This represents a 21.3 per cent decrease in the rate from 2017 to 2018 and about $87,210 in averted spending towards non-traumatic oral health-related emergency department visits.
Health Unit officials believe the impact of poor dental health extends beyond medical problems and can affect a person’s ability to learn, to get a job, to work, as well as a person’s self-esteem and relationships. There are many barriers to accessing oral health services; the Health Unit’s dental clinic helps those who meet the criteria achieve healthy smiles.
In 2018, 561 adults utilized the clinic. The clinic continues to grow, as 595 adults have been treated in the first six months of 2019. The current wait time is six months, with emergency appointments available for severe dental traumas.
The adult clinic provides preventative, routine and emergency dental services free of charge for individuals 18 years of age and older, from the Nipissing and Parry Sound districts, who meet the eligibility criteria. Recipients of Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support Program, Interim Federal Health Program or non-insured health benefits for Indigenous people and individuals or families who meet the financial criteria are all eligible for the program.
In 2018, 68 per cent of adult clients presented with one or more areas of untreated tooth decay, 62 per cent with dental pain and 18 per cent with a dental abscess. In the first six months of 2019, 76 per cent of adult clients presented with one or more areas of untreated tooth decay, 51 per cent with dental pain and 22 per cent with a dental abscess.
The Health Unit also offers a children’s clinic, which provides dental services to children 17 years of age and under through the Healthy Smiles Ontario program (HSO), including teeth cleaning, check-ups, dental treatment and urgent or emergency oral health issues.
In 2018, the Health Unit screened 4,696 children and 1,177 children received dental care through the HSO program, totalling 2,143 dental visits. In the first six months of 2019, the Health Unit screened 1,779 children and 770 children received dental care through the HSO program, resulting in 1,004 dental visits.
“There is an evident need for the clinics in our community," said Julie Patenaude-Bouffard, Interim Program Manager, Oral Health in a release.
"The reduction of emergency room visits is particularly important, as reduced wait times and averted costs have a significant impact on the acute care system,”For more information or to determine if you are eligible for services, call the Health Unit at 705-474-1400 or 1-800-563-2808, or learn more at myhealthunit.ca.