IS TORONTO'S FREE DENTAL SERVICES REALLY FREE FOR ALL ?

originally published 08/25/14

Hello again, it's your girl JA Nursing. Hope all is well this blog is about dental care.
On August 22 2014, I had the opportunity to take part in a program that is funded and run by our beautiful taxes, Oops  did I say that? I should have said beautiful city of Toronto.

Launched  by The City of Toronto in 2012   is our very own Mobile dental clinic.  

Services offered on the Mobile dental clinic include:
examinations
x-rays
fillings
cleaning
some root canal treatments
extractions
emergency and urgent dental care to treat issues like dental pain or cavities.

This is a great idea, because it offers a bus  that brings care directly to the people within the city of Toronto. The impact that Dental health  has on  our overall health can take a tool on our nutrition, speech, learning, employment and self-esteem.   Is very important, and of course I was glad to have my son participate  in having his teeth cleaned and X-rayed.

The mobile bus was set up at my church, I went inside with my son (age14) and it was truly an elaborate setup, very clean and spacious with all the fixings of a regular dental office. 

On board The Mobile Dental Clinic is a 40-foot customized coach that is fully accessible and is equipped with two dental stations, a sterilization centre and a reception area. The clinic is staffed by a dentist, registered dental hygienist and a certified dental assistant.  Way to go City of Toronto.




  "By bringing the clinic directly to the client we are hoping to reach our most vulnerable residents, reduce health inequities and improve the health of our whole population." This is the mission of the Mobile Bus.

The bus will travel throughout Toronto visiting neighbourhoods and community agencies Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to provide free dental care to those who meet eligibility requirements.




The mobile dental clinic will travel to select partnering community agency sites, across the city to provide free dental care for eligible clients who have difficulty accessing dental services in the customary manner.

Let's take a look at the 
Eligibility Criteria's
To be eligible clients must meet all eligibility criteria listed below
*Live in Toronto
*Meet TPH financial eligibility criteria
*Must not have dental insurance
*Meet the following age criteria: children and youth (0-17 years), 
*adults enrolled in selected Toronto Public Health programs, seniors (65 years and older)
*Adults 18 years of age and older who are on a government dental sponsored dental plan such as Ontario Works (OW), Ontario Disability Support Program(ODSP), Non-insured Health Benefits (NIHB) are eligible

Luckily my son met eligibility due to his age, but as his Mom I did not qualify. Now, I know people may be thinking why would I need dental services, Because I am "Nurse" I work in a well known hospital so I must have benefits? Well the answer is NO;   but this is the reality for a lot of health professionals.  The fact is that once you are employed on a part-time  basis you are not automatically entitled to health and dental benefits. Irony of this is that we work countless hours making sure the general public is taking care of once they arrive to hospital, and our City doesn't feel that we deserve to have those  benefits regardless of full time or part time or even casual position. Well, let me not take away from the fact that you can be eligible but at what cost you might as well pay for your prescriptions and dental care as needed, because the cost to join will take a significant chunk out of your pay check as a part time worker.   

What's the solution? Well I think by now our trusty politicians are aware that we have a category of  people in our city that do not or still can not afford dental care especially with the cost  of living and other factors. My issue with that is we should be eligible to participate in  programs such as the mobile dental clinic.  The goal should be to make it accessible to all. I frown on the fact that my taxes fund such programs to which my children are eligible due to age and residency,  but I do not qualify because I don't fit into any of the other Criteria's.  Of course they have other dental programs and clinics but of course you have to slotted into the "low income" bracket.  My thoughts on this why should it be a matter of low income being the issue? An equally single mother paying standard rent and addressing the same issues of living like anyone else, may still face affordability issues. 
My debate is that we have  thousands of nurses who do not have benefits due to being in  part time status who takes care of Us. What about all persons working endlessly to make ends meet and having there taxes equally taken without great returns  at tax time. 

The answer provided by the city is that they offer dental clinics throughout the city. The criteria again depends on you being in the financial hardship category. It funny who decides what is categorized as being in financial hardship. Thank you once again my trusty politicians or should I say our Minister  of Health and Long Term Care who says As of October this year, 32,900 children have received dental care thanks to the Healthy Smiles Ontario program, fulfilling another commitment under the Poverty Reduction Strategy,” said Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. “The mobile dental clinic will help increase accessibility to dental care for eligible children 17 years of age and under. These services will not only provide treatment and preventative care - they also reinforce the importance of maintaining good oral health.” 

Great work on that aspect, we also have 
Dental Clinics conveniently located in the City of Toronto.  You can find out more information by using  dialing 311. A resource for finding services around the city. 

http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=29574485d1210410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD

As back to school fastly approaches I urge you to to help your children start of the new year with a fresh smile by using theses services that have been provided  by our city. 




If you require help with navigating the sites and or finding out where you should go. Don't hesitate to contact Michelle Smith your Health Care advocate. 416-567-7556
Our mission is to provide information and help change healthcare outcomes by helping you navigate our healthcare system 









Etobicoke York District

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8 Taber Road
(on Kipling Ave. north of Rexdale)
Etobicoke Civic Centre, Ward 3 (CLOSED due to repairs; scheduled to reopen in Spring 2014)
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Unison Health and Community Services, Ward 15
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Scarborough District
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