More dental care access for Ontario children from low income families

Healthy Smiles Ontario to provide more dental care access for kids from low income families. (CIHI )

Saskatchewan's youngest children are more likely to suffer from serious dental problems than children in any other province, according to a new study by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

The CIHI report released this week says kids from one to four years old in Saskatchewan need surgery to deal with rotten teeth at four times the Alberta rate.

In Saskatchewan, the rate is 35 day surgeries per 1,000 children, the highest of all provinces.
In Alberta, it's 8.8 surgeries per thousand.

The highest day surgery rates in Canada are found in two territories — Nunavut (97.2) and Northwest Territories (51.8). Day surgery typically means tooth extraction.

CIHI spokesman Anne MacFarlane said there is an explanation for why Saskatchewan's rate is higher than other provinces.

"Our studies show that this is a problem more common in rural areas and more common on areas of the country with a high concentration of aboriginal people, [both factors] which are characteristic to Saskatchewan," she said.

The study looked at children who needed day surgery due to dental caries, also known as cavities.

The report said the risk of dental caries can be reduced by maintaining good oral health starting at an early age. That means such things as brushing teeth and having healthy dietary habits. It also means getting fluoride treatments and using fluoridated water.