As a dental hygienist, you’ll work in a fast-paced environment meeting new patients with unique situations every day. Some of your duties will include taking detailed assessments, providing dental procedures to prevent, treat, or control oral diseases, developing personalized oral care plans, and educating your clients on the importance of a daily oral care routine.
You may be surprised to learn that a third of Canadians do not have dental insurance and over 20% of Canadians avoid getting the dental care they need because of the financial costs. These staggering statistics include many vulnerable seniors, many of whom find oral care services unaffordable and inaccessible.
Keep reading to learn more about how Canada is making oral care accessible for the elderly, and what this could mean for the future of dental hygienists.
The 2022 Canadian Federal Budget Granted $5.3 Billion Towards Dental Care
In April 2022, the Canadian Government announced in the release of the federal budget that they have set aside $5.3 billion dollars to improve the access to dental care for Canadians over the next 5 years. They’ve also promised an additional $1.7 billion dollars ongoing yearly afterwards. Fully implemented by 2025, this funding will be restricted to low-income families, and begin to aid seniors specifically in 2023. For dental hygienists, this means they can expect to see more patients who have access to the services they need.
The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA) Expects More
If you’re in dental hygienist school, you may already know that the CDHA is a strong advocate for seniors and the need for improved accessibility for the elderly. While they publicly applauded the federal government for their investment in dental care for low-income Canadians, they believe that more steps need to be taken towards preventative measures that can be performed by a dental hygienist, rather than funding the reactive services that must be completed by a dentist. In the years to come, we could be seeing more investment in dental hygienist work by the federal government with pressures from the CDHA.
The CDHA Released a Policy Paper Focused on Additional Accessibility for Seniors
In a policy paper released in June 2022, the CDHA called on the Canadian government to commit $2 billion more towards preventative oral health care measures, with evidence-based recommendations for increased and improved access for the elderly. These recommendations suggest that the programs that are currently funded by the government place limitations on eligibility and the scope of services provided, with some areas of Canada not covered by eligible government-funded oral health programs.
How this Affects Graduates of Dental Hygienist School
Most importantly, the CDHA is putting pressure on the Canadian government to recognize dental hygienists nationally as eligible oral health care providers that can assist in preventative measures to help seniors benefit furthermore from the funding.
During your dental hygiene courses, you’ll learn about the legalities, circumstances and exceptions regarding practicing independently. Although dental hygienists are currently authorized to assess and provide dental care without the supervision of a dentist in most of Canada, many government-funded oral health programs primarily pay for the dental work done to be done by dentists. The CDHA is urging the Canadian government to include all licensed oral health care professionals to provide enhanced accessibility and comprehensive oral care and preventative measures that the elderly need.
Dental hygienists are already in high demand across Canada. With the addition of national recognition for provincial and territorial-funded dental care programs, dental hygienists will have even more opportunities for employment upon graduating.
Interested in learning more about our accredited dental hygiene diploma program?
Contact the Canadian Academy of Dental Hygiene today!