Putting our money where our mouth is

The renegotiations of the federal-provincial-territorial health accord are on the horizon, and everyone is looking for a way to save money and improve health.  Sound impossible?  Why don’t we put our money where our mouth is?

It’s a strange truth of Canadian public policy: the care of our lips, tongues, and throats is fully covered by public funding, but not our teeth and gums. This toothless approach to health care is a costly oversight for the public purse.

A mounting body of evidence shows a correlation between poor oral health and higher incidence of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, and Alzheimer’s. Tooth decay is a preventable by low-cost public health interventions. A coordinated approach to oral health policy could play a major role in improving health and reducing costs over the long run.  

Canadians spend about $13 billion a year on our teeth. A public health program that brings dental care to kids in schools across Canada would cost  about $550 million – about 4.5% of all dental spending and 0.3% of total health care spending.  It would save billions of dollars of health care services down the road.  An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.   

Putting Our Money Where Our Mouth Is: The Future of Dental Care in Canada is a timely compendium of facts and policies that help decision makers weigh their options for cost-effective policy that can create lasting change, one healthy smile at a time.