Public Health Improvement Dental Clinics

Gray Bruce Health Unit’s oral health programs, which include in-school screenings and free dental services for eligible low-income children and seniors, have continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 19.

Many health units in Ontario have suspended their oral health programs during the pandemic, so we are one of the few areas in the province to continue to offer these much-needed services to eligible clients,” said Jason Weppler, the program manager who oversees oral health. health portfolio.

Medical Officer of Health Dr Ian Arra added: “It was not an easy decision to commit to providing oral health services to the most vulnerable while our GBHU team responded to the emergency. However, we had the greatest confidence we could offer through the unwavering commitment of our staff and managers to serving the community and using evidence-based emergency management and best management practices.

Public Health is also undertaking a $320,000 project to upgrade its dental clinic at the Owen Sound Health Unit headquarters and has completed a $336,000 renovation at its clinic at South East Gray Community Health Center in Markdale.

Contractors began renovating the Owen Sound Clinic on January 10. The works include the construction of a third operating theatre, the installation of a panoramic dental X-ray machine and new dental offices, as well as the creation of an improved reprocessing room.

Weppler expects the work to be completed by the end of February.

Improvements to the Markdale Clinic were completed in mid-December. They include an improved reprocessing room and an added file and storage room as well as new dental cabinets and a new dental chair.

Funding for the upgrades was provided by the Department of Health.

Public Health has also submitted a new request for funding to add a fixed dental clinic and operating room in Bruce County, which is currently only served by mobile clinics. The application was filed in early January.

The Gray Bruce Health Unit oversees four mandatory oral health programs.

An assessment and monitoring program uses dental hygienists to screen children in all Bluewater District School Boards, Bruce Gray Catholic District School Board, Grey-Bruce private and Mennonite/Amish schools as well as St. Dominic Savio Catholic School in Owen Sound.

Around 6,720 students were screened in 2019/20 and this number dropped to 1,441 students in 2020/21 due to pandemic-related school closures. So far this school year, 3,456 students have been screened.

Students from schools considered low risk are screened in kindergarten, kindergarten, and grade 2, while students from medium-risk schools are also screened in grade 4, and students from high-risk schools are also screened in 7th year.

We are on track to have all eligible students screened this year,” Weppler said.

The health unit also operates a Healthy Smiles Ontario program, which provides free preventive, restorative and emergency dental services to eligible children and youth ages 17 and under, as well as the OSDCP, which provides these same services as well as dentures for eligible seniors. aged 65 and over.

Nearly 7,000 clients were seen at public health dental clinics in Owen Sound, Markdale, Walkerton and Wiarton in 2019, while 2,173 were seen in 2020 and 2,015 in 2021.

The clinics are mainly used by the elderly. The majority of children enrolled at Healthy Smiles Ontario are referred to external dental providers.

Public Health also oversees the Children’s Oral Health Initiative, a Health Canada program aimed at increasing access to preventive oral health services for First Nations and Inuit children up to the age of seven years old.

The program was suspended during the pandemic, in accordance with a mutual agreement between Public Health and Indigenous partners. It should be relaunched this winter.

Larry A. Schroeder