Ottawa woman facing $50K tooth fix gains support of dental groups

Johny-Angel Butera now has the support of two dentist organizations as she looks for help with her rare genetic tooth disorder.

Canadian Dental Association backs Johny-Angel Butera, who can't get OHIP coverage for procedure

OHIP won't cover local's dental procedure

8 years ago
Duration 3:12
Johny-Angel Butera faces some $50,000 in bills for much-needed dental work is wondering how she will pay.
Dr. Benoit Soucy with the Canadian Dental Association says he'd like to see Ontario adopt a similar panel as British Columbia, where specialists rule on coverage for patients that fall through the cracks. (CBC)
An Ottawa woman with a rare genetic tooth disorder is facing a $50,000 dental fix that isn't covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Program. 

Johny-Angel Butera, 30, has almost no back teeth, the result of a condition called amelogenesis imperfecta, which leads to the erosion of the enamel.

She suffers severe headaches, has trouble chewing food and said specialists have told her if the dental work isn't done soon and as her teeth wear down, she could suffer permanent damage to her jaw.

"It's now to the point where my jaw is killing me, I have headaches every day from tense muscles and neck pain," she said.

Every dentist Butera has seen has told her she needs a set of permanent crowns on her teeth, but the procedure would cost $50,000.

Butera, a contract worker with little insurance and student loans to pay, cannot afford the surgery. 

Through the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, the province pays for some dental surgery, but only when it is done in a hospital. OHIP does not pay the cost of regular dental services in a dentist's office.

Gains support of dental groups

It’s a situation the province's health insurance policies should reconsider, says Dr. Ed Dore, the president of the Canadian oral and maxillofacial surgeons association.

"Our association and the Ontario society of oral and maxillofacial surgeons have been advocating as loudly as we can for the people who fall through the cracks because they're not able to get third-party coverage or they're not able to pay," he said.

After CBC News first reported Butera's story Friday morning, the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) said it's been lobbying for a panel of specialists to look at cases such as hers where coverage isn't offered.

"The first thing that's at stake is we're looking at added health care costs down the line, that's very obvious," said Dr. Benoit Soucy, the CDA's director of clinical and scientific affairs.

"But to me what's more important is we have a number of deserving individuals that are living a life that is not the life they should be living, we should not allow people to be dentally crippled in a country like Canada with the resources that we have.​"

Butera said she just wants to live without pain.

"I wish I could get help with this so I can function normally. I'm a good person, but it would be nice if I could join society and be normal."