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LETTER: N.S. can do better for children’s oral health

Throughout my career as a family dentist, I have treated far too many children with severe dental disease and have seen the devastating effects it has on a child’s long-term oral and overall health.

As a former school teacher I have also seen how poor oral health affects a child’s ability to concentrate, grow, and learn.

With 36 per cent of Nova Scotia’s children currently experiencing dental decay by the age of six, it is clear that the existing provincial Children’s Oral Health Program (COHP) is not working efficiently. As a result, is not helping enough of our families and their children achieve optimal oral health.
Nova Scotia currently offers a COHP for all children up until the age of 15. However, the budget has been stretched so thin that it limits the resources and services available to children at the greatest risk of dental disease. For children in families of lower socio-economic status, the government program and its services is all the care they receive – and it just isn’t enough.   
After four decades of providing care with a limited budget, family dentists across the province are urging the provincial government to re-structure and re-focus the current COHP – placing resources where they will benefit those most risk of dental disease. Nova Scotia dentists understand that these are economically challenged times, and we are not asking for an increase in budget. Instead, we are asking to see the current budget spent more efficiently by focusing on children in need and emphasizing disease prevention. We can do this all without investing more in the program than Nova Scotians already do today.
Nova Scotia dentists are committed to working with the provincial government to provide the best possible program for those children who need it most. By doing this, our goal is to raise the overall level of pediatric oral health care across the province. This isn’t happening with our current program structure. We can do better.
Please, talk to your family dentist about why the N.S. COHP needs to change, and visit to pledge your support.
Dr. Erin Hennessy, DDS
NSDA President

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