Ontario’s public dental programs leave many without care. In particular, thousands of adults living on low incomes cannot afford a visit to a dentist, which can harm their physical and emotional wellbeing and ability to get work.
Older men who are homeless can face some of the greatest barriers to dental care and suffer the worst consequences.
A study that assessed the oral health of people at Toronto shelters found:
– 97% of people surveyed in Toronto shelters needed dental treatment compared to 34% in the general Canadian population.
– 40% needed emergency dental treatment.
– 35% had avoided eating due to mouth problems.
– 32% said they experienced tooth pain over the last month. Of these, 75% did not receive care.
– 35% had not seen a dentist in four years or more.
– 70% had no insurance coverage for dental care.
– Oral health was markedly worse for people who were homeless or unemployed for longer than one year.
– People were often unaware of their own dental problems. While 20% said they had no dental problems, only 3% were found to be problem-free during an oral exam.
Source: Figueiredo RLF, Hwang SW, Quiñonez C. Dental health of homeless adults in Toronto, Canada. Journal of Public Health Dentistry.