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Written by admin, July 27, 2012

July 27, 2012 – Postcard Campaign Highlights Gap in Support For Adults With Severe Dental Problems

While most postcards depict scenic vacation getaway spots, a new ‘dental’ postcard shows how oral care for some Ontario adults is far from picture-perfect.

The postcard is part of a province-wide advocacy campaign being launched by the Ontario Oral Health Alliance. The alliance is an umbrella organization formed in 2007 to unite the voices of those in Ontario who lobby and advocate for better access to oral health. In this area, members of Peterborough Public Health, Peterborough Social Planning Council, and the Peterborough Poverty Reduction Network encourage area residents to sign the postcards, which are addressed to their local Member of Provincial Parliament, at participating locations across the community.

The campaign’s postcard features photos of five ‘real’ Ontarians with severe dental problems smiling through gritted teeth. A caption below the pictures reads: ‘Why am I living with pain and infection?’ On the back of the postcard, the Oral Health Alliance notes that thousands of Ontario adults suffer with pain and infection from poor oral health because they cannot afford to get regular dental treatment. People are urged to sign the postcards to lobby the Province to expand financial-support programs to include adults who cannot afford basic dental treatment.

“Adults with severe dental pain and infection are suffering in silence,” says Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, Medical Officer of Health. “We know that oral health impacts on a person’s overall health and somehow we must find a way to expand Healthy Smiles Ontario to include all low-income Ontarians who currently have no dental coverage.”

The Ontario Oral Health Alliance estimates one in three Ontarians cannot afford to get regular dental treatment. High costs and lack of dental insurance are some of the main barriers. In 2008, the provincial government committed to develop a program to pay dental costs for low-income families. Financial-assistance programs were created or expanded, but only cover dental treatment for low-income children – not adults.

“Steps have been taken to help children get better access to dental care, but there is still a gap for adults who require emergency dental care,” says Stephen Kylie, Chair of the Peterborough Poverty Reduction Network. “We want to give voice to the problem and encourage people in Peterborough City and County to sign a dental postcard so that we can close this gap.”

‘Chantal’, a Kingston woman in her late 20s, is one of the five people pictured on the postcard. In a YouTube video recorded as part of the campaign, Chantal holds back tears explaining she cannot afford to get regular dental care. She also suffers from severe toothaches and infection, and has few options but to get treatment for her pain at the local hospital emergency room. In the video, she acknowledges having low self-esteem and lack of confidence due to her poor oral health. She also believes her appearance has prevented her from obtaining employment. “I am embarrassed, and sometimes have to cover my mouth,” Chantal says. “I want to be able to smile and mean it…I’m tired of not being able to be the person I want to be because of my teeth.”

Postcards can be picked up at the Community Dental Health Centre and the Peterborough Social Planning Council offices, both located in Peterborough Square at 360 George St. North.  They will also be made available at various health events during the year.

For more details about the campaign, local residents can call (705) 743-1000, ext. 207 or visit www.oaphd.on.ca.

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For further information, please contact:

Sarah Tanner
Dental Program Supervisor
Peterborough Public Health
(705) 743-1000, ext. 207

or

Anna Rusak
Ontario Oral Health Alliance representative and Health Promoter with Haliburton, Kawartha Pine Ridge District Public Health
(905) 885-9100