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Accessibility Challenges in Dental Care

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Residents of Canada are in the fortunate position of having many of their health care needs provided for by their province or territory of residence. There are some exceptions to the government health care coverage, and oral health care is among the more notable of these exclusions. Private health and dental insurance can go a long way to bridge these gaps in coverage, and this help gives Canadians access to regular dental care. However, sometimes the obstacle to seeing the dentist isn’t a financial one – it’s a physical barrier.

Accessibility Standards for People with Disabilities

To get the most out of health and dental insurance, and enjoy the health benefits that stem from good oral health care, prospective dental patients need to be able to physically get to the office. They must also be able to communicate with the dentist about their oral health care routine at home and any problems they are experiencing with their teeth and gums. The inability to access oral health care services because of a barrier other than cost is a serious problem.

Our population is aging rapidly, and if current projections are correct, more than 25% of Canadian population will be over the age of 65 in the year 2061. When compared against the current percentage of Canadians who are living with disabilities, many of whom are also senior citizens, it is apparent that the time to start planning how to address this problem is now.

Enforcing Accessibility Standards

To their credit, the governments in many provinces are working to develop and enact legislation that aims to make accommodations for disabled Canadians a matter of law, rather than one of courtesy. For example, Ontario businesses, including dental offices, must comply with provincial standards to accommodate patients with disabilities. According to the Act, all services and buildings must be compliant by January 1, 2025. As you can plainly see, that date is nearly 10 years away. Most dentists are more than willing to work around the physical needs of their patients, they just need to know how they can help.

Adjustments for Personal Circumstances

If trips to the dentist are made more difficult because of a physical limitation, some of the responsibility rests with the patient to make sure the dentist is aware of the problem. If you require the assistance of a mobility device to get around and there is no ramp or automatic door at your dentist’s office, be sure to bring this to their attention. If you find that hearing loss is making it difficult to communicate over the noise of the dental cleaning equipment, your dentist can work with you by ensuring they turn off loud devices or by touching you gently on the shoulder to get your attention when they have a question.

Government regulations are a strong motivator for businesses, including dental offices, to become more accessible for all of their clients. However, it’s no substitute for being your own greatest advocate.

2 Responses

  1. I’m 68 and my wife is 63, I will retire in early 2020 and I carried the benefits package with my employment. I’m looking for coverage post retirement for Dental for myself and Dental and Prescription Drugs for my wife. Please let me know how you can help.

    1. Hi Stephen,

      As we have numerous options for your specific situation please give us a call at 1-800-667-0429, Monday to Friday, between 8:45AM and 4:45PM EST to discuss.

      We’d be happy to help!

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