SMILES for a LIFETIME
South Community Market – City of Red Deer and South, specifically for the Bow Valley Corridor including Lake Louise, Canmore, Cochrane and Banff.
Category: Education, Healthcare, Oral Health
IDEA – I am requesting $25,000 to help provide assistance to families in financial need who require urgent dental treatment for their children, ages 1-12, living in the Bow Corridor.
Dental disease is affecting children living in the Bow Corridor in unprecedented numbers. As a public health dental hygienist, I see hundreds of children every year, offering dental screening to help identify dental decay in preschool and school age children and then applying fluoride varnish to help prevent dental disease. Currently, 1 out of 5 permanent residents of the Bow Corridor is from a country other than Canada. Children from these families arrive in Canada with dental disease that is often severe and painful and affecting their overall health making adjustments to settling in Canada much more difficult. Many times the family is unaware of their child’s oral health condition or unable to save enough money to have their child’s urgent dental condition treated in a timely manner. Costs can be as high as $5,000 per child when general anesthetic is required for treatment in a hospital.
Paying if Forward – Alberta Health Services and Settlement Services would provide opportunities for families to share their experience to provide a greater understanding about how oral health affects general health. Using their personal experience, they would be encouraged to become oral health advocates for other families with similar circumstances. Opportunities may include an interview or write up in a local newspaper, sharing a story in Calgary Zone news, interviewing a family on local TV or a radio station, having a mother talk to colleagues at a New Mother’s group.
Who Will it Benefit?
The funding would benefit families with children, ages 1-12 who are in financial need and do not have enough funds to complete their child’s urgent dental treatment. Families may have partial dental insurance plans and some savings but not sufficient funds for dental treatment requiring general anaesthetic when the situation is urgent and needs to be treated immediately. Direct funding made available to families for oral health would mean that the dental treatment could go ahead immediately and the child wouldn’t have to wait and suffer with their pain and infection from dental disease.
Currently, many families have no choice but to wait until they can save up enough money or borrow from friends or family members for urgent dental treatment their child or children need. They sometimes make a decision to wait until they can return to their home country for a visit where costs of dental treatment are more affordable. This can be a two year wait, while the child continues to live with the pain and infection, affecting their overall health, often not sleeping or eating well and missing school and other important community connections that are critical in helping them succeed and adjust to their new life in Canada.