Nakusp’s local dental professionals are reaching out to spread the message of good tooth care to young people this month.
Children from kindergarten to Grade 2 at Nakusp Elementary will be taking part in a brushing program this month, being established as part of Dental Health Month.
Children will play games, get new toothbrushes and fun new toothpastes and learn about what makes good dental care, says the dental hygienist helping organize the event.
“The Nakusp Dental Clinic wants to give back to the community for all its support, and help promote good dental health,” says Ashley Pendree. “We’ll be making it fun, trying to improve awareness that dental diseases are actually the most common disease in children, and it’s preventable.”
Setting good habits now is essential for long term dental health, says Pendree.
“Establishing whatever you can do at home is more important that what we can do for you here,” she says. “You can drastically reduce your kid’s dental decay by brushing their teeth until they turn seven. Or flossing their teeth once a week, not giving them juice… every bit helps.”
But Dental Health Month is not just for kids. Pendree says a big challenge in the Nakusp area is that people only come to see the dentist when their teeth start to hurt.
“A lot of people, I believe, come in for pain control. If they feel they have pain they will come to the dentist, but overall prevention in this area I find is lower than some areas,” she says. “They may feel that if their teeth look good and they feel okay, they are healthy. That could be that myth here.”
The problem may be finances, in a region where wages are low an employment precarious. So Pendree also wants to let people know there is support to offset those costs.
“We’ve partnered with the West Kootenay Community TEETH Clinic Society,” she says. That program allows low-income citizens to access both preventative and regular dental care at reduced cost.
Set up in November 2016, the program lets people earning less than $30,000, if they meet residence and income-checking requirements, to get up to 40 per cent off the BC billing guide prices for dental check-ups and care. There’s also support for people on disability, and for preventative programs for youth from low-income families to receive free dental care.
But Pendree says she thinks we can do more as a country.
‘I would love to see it as part of our medical system,” she says. “It’s not good for our oral health or health in general to have dental health silo-ed in our health care system.”
“British Columbia has some of the lowest dental fees in the country, but it’s still unaffordable for the working poor,” she says. “It costs about $120 to$150 to see a dental hygienist as a prevention method. That’s just too much for some people.
“So we’d encourage people to come and get screened for low-income support.”