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Better dental care for children and people with special needs

By Caitlin Snow Jun 12, 2023 | 1:28 PM

saotin / CC

Under a new agreement between the province and dentists, there is about to be new dental coverage for children under age 14 and those with special needs. This includes sedation and silver diamine fluoride application as part of the Children’s Oral Health Program and special needs program. Dentists will also be able to bill the province separately for scaling; a type of cleaning that goes below the gum line.

“As a government, we are committed to improving access to dental care for children in Nova Scotia,” said Michelle Thompson, Minister of Health and Wellness. “These changes allow for more preventative care for children and, when necessary, more advanced dental treatments closer to home.”

Any special training or mentorship required for dentists, to care for patients with special needs, after dentists retire, will also be covered.

The agreement will increase some fees paid under the Children’s Oral Health Program and Individuals with Special Needs Oral Health Program to ensure consistency across all services. The additional cost of the agreement is estimated to be about $4.7 million in the first year, including about $935,000 for the new scaling coverage.

The Insured Dental Services Tariff Regulations will be updated to reflect the changes in the agreement. As well, the Employment Support and Income Assistance program at the Department of Community Services will pay dentists the same fees for emergency dental services as the Department of Health and Wellness.

“We are very pleased to see the commitment the Government of Nova Scotia is making to the oral health of children in this province. Prevention is key to good oral health, which starts early in life, and coverage for services like sedation and fluoride will support better access to care. A healthy mouth plays a vital part in overall health and wellbeing, which is why the Nova Scotia Dental Association supports all investments like those announced today,” said Juli Waterbury, President, Nova Scotia Dental Association.

Quick Facts:

— the Children’s Oral Health Program covers basic dental care for children aged 14 and younger who have a valid MSI health card number

— once a year, the program covers one routine dental exam, two routine X-rays, at least one topical fluoride treatment and one cavity prevention service

— fillings, necessary extractions and nutritional counselling are also covered the program

— Nova Scotians must use their private insurance first, when applicable, before the program will provide coverage

The changes are part of the province’s Action for Health, to improve healthcare in the province. They will go into effect July 4.

Additional Resources:
Action for Health, the government’s plan to improve healthcare in Nova Scotia: https://novascotia.ca/actionforhealth/

Mandate letter of the Minister of Health and Wellness: https://novascotia.ca/exec_council/letters-2021/ministerial-mandate-letter-2021-DHW.pdf

Nova Scotia’s dental programs: https://novascotia.ca/dhw/dental-programs/


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