Elmo Spreads News About Expansion of Ontario’s Healthy Smiles Program
Ontario’s Healthy Smiles program is set to expand, and Etobicoke Centre Liberal Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Yvan Baker needed a memorable face to help him announce the good news. Enter Sesame Street’s Elmo, who, in a 90-second video clip, recently helped Baker speak to a group of five to ten year olds from Westmount Junior School about the importance of good dental hygiene.

In his YouTube PSA entitled “Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me – Brushy, Brush,” Elmo wears signature green and white polka dot pajamas while singing a catchy and encouraging tune alongside several celebrity friends, including Bruno Mars, Nicole Kidman, and Jay Sean. In his speech at Westmount, Baker was sure to mention how much he enjoyed watching Sesame Street when he was younger.

How Will The Expansion Help?

As a result of the Healthy Smiles program expansion, more than 70,000 additional children from low-income families across the province will gain access to free dental care. The program includes preventative, routine, emergency, and essential procedures performed by licensed dentists and dental hygienists.

Ontario’s Healthy Smiles program currently serves more than 323,000 children and youth below the age of 17 from low-income families. In order to serve the additional 70,000 the city combined six publicly funded initiatives into one overarching program that requires a simple enrollment process.

The move was positive supported by the Ontario Dental Association, and the association’s president, Dr. Victor Kutcher said, “Eliminating duplication and creating a single program means more children and youth can go to school with a health smile,” and added that the association will continue its mission “to ensure sustainable and equitable funding for dental programs.”

According to Baker, healthcare is an extremely important issue for his constituents, and “part of that is ensuring children in need get early access to good oral health as it can make a positive impact on overall health for years to come.”

Dr. John Glenny, who accompanied Baker alongside a giant, five-foot-tall red toothbrush, is encouraged by the expansion announcement. “There are a lot of families in Etobicoke who can’t afford dental treatment,” Glenny said. “For the government to expand the program means more children will be able to see a dentist and have their procedures covered.”

Who Qualifies?

Under the Health Smiles program, children, or their family must receive Ontario Works, Temporary Care Assistance, Ontario Disability Support Program, or Assistance for Children. Children can also qualify if they are under 17 years of age, reside in Toronto, and live in a household with a household income equal or less than the levels in the table on this page.

Some of the services covered by the Healthy Smiles program include checkups, cleanings, fillings, X-rays, and urgent or emergency oral health issues. According to Ontario’s health minister, Dr. Eric Hoskins, tooth decay remains one of the most common childhood diseases, but “it is preventable with proper dental care, and our expanded Healthy Smiles program is helping more kids access these important services.”

“We are making it easier for children to get the dental care they need,” Hoskins added, “because having good oral health and a healthy smile can have positive impacts on a child’s overall health, self-esteem and ability to learn.”

Hoskins also encouraged Ontario families to visit http://www.ontario.ca/healthysmiles to explore their eligibility and enroll in the program.

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Posted by: DSR
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Tag: Dental
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