Ontario Expands Free Dental Care for Eligible Children and Youth

kid in dentist chair

More than 323,000 children and youth from low-income families are getting free dental care through the new Healthy Smiles Ontario program. Under the expanded program, Ontario is providing free dental care to help Sault Ste. Marie families raise healthier kids. Children from low-income families can access free preventive, routine, emergency and essential care from licensed dental providers, David Orazietti MPP announced today.

“The Healthy Smiles Program will help more children and youth in Sault Ste. Marie access preventive dental care when they need it most,” said Orazietti. “Access to dental care in the early years is proven to be an important part of good overall health as an adult.”

Ontario has integrated six publicly funded dental programs into one, providing a simplified enrolment process and making it easier for eligible children to get the care they need. These changes also mean that 70,000 more children from low-income families have become eligible for free dental services. Applicants can now sign up for this program online at ontario.ca/healthysmiles. They can also contact their local public health unit for information and support.

Research demonstrates that untreated oral health problems can affect a child’s ability to eat, sleep and concentrate in school, which can impact their growth and development. The new Healthy Smiles Ontario program is part of Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy commitment to build community capacity to deliver oral health prevention and treatment services to children and youth from low-income families in Ontario.

“The oral health of children and youth is important as it is connected to their overall health and wellbeing,” said Hannele Dionisi, Program Manager of Child Health and Oral Health Services at Algoma Public Health. “Healthy Smiles Ontario supports children and families in need to receive treatment, preventive services and dental health education. We look forward to assisting families and dental health providers in the Algoma district in navigating the new program with a goal of children and youth accessing oral health services. Algoma Public Health would like to acknowledge the provincial government for supporting publicly funded dental programs.”

Investing in dental care for children and youth is part of the government’s plan to build a better Ontario through its Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care, which provides patients with faster access to the right care; better home and community care; the information they need to live healthy; and a health care system that is sustainable for generations to come.