New public dental program for seniors in Hamilton

This excellent initiative shows why we need a national dental program. Seniors would especially benefit.


City will set up dental care program for seniors

By Samantha Craggs, CBC News Posted: Feb 20, 2015 5:45 AM ET Last Updated: Feb 20, 2015 5:45 AM ET

Public health staff is setting up a new program to provide dental care to low-income seniors.

Hamilton’s board of health approved a plan to establish a new program for older residents, which will start in January 2016. It will cost $251,275 per year and be funded with unused dollars from programs for children.

Dr. Ninh Tran, the city’s associate medical officer of health, will report back in the fall with the details of the program. It already serves seniors through the adult dental clinic, and the dental health bus. But there’s a need for more.

Those options “only work if you’re physically able to get to our clinic,” Tran told CBC Hamilton. “One of the gaps is for many who have mental, cognitive or physical disabilities and can’t get there.”

Screening in other areas show there are seniors with cracked teeth, pain and infections going without dental care, Tran said.

Eight per cent of the people who use the dental clinic are seniors, while 10.5 per cent of dental bus clients are seniors, he said. About 50,000 of Hamilton’s roughly 80,000 seniors don’t have dental insurance.

Public Health would hire a dental hygienist to develop the program.

Coun. Tom Jackson of Ward 6 said he wants to make sure the program isn’t just for seniors in long-term care homes, but also for those with mobility issues who are still living in their homes.

“This is a gap in seniors’ services in the oral health area, especially those that are shut ins and otherwise can’t afford to have proper maintenance of their teeth and molars.”

Council will ratify the decision on Wednesday.

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