The Nova Scotia government is adding a new chief dental officer position and expanding the IWK Health Centre’s dentistry department to shorten wait times for children who need dental surgery.

Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Leonard Preyra was on hand to make the announcement on Tuesday.

The NDP government is adding staffing positions and equipment to the children hospital’s pediatric dentistry department. It said those changes will double the number of children aged 16 and younger who receive specialized dental surgery, including for painful and chronic dental infections and facial cellulitis.

Iolanda Toma said her three-year-old son Samuel waited 14 months to get dental surgery that couldn’t be treated by his regular dentist.

"These waiting times, not knowing when we will be done, it's pretty stressful because I know he had some other cavities and they couldn't be fixed in another place because he was too young. And what we can do if something happened?" she said.

The government also said it plans to hire a chief dental officer to help craft an oral health strategy.

The IWK said its dentistry unit operates on 700 patients from across the Maritimes each year.