Monday 15th of April 2024

More than 1 in 3 Canadians have not visited a dentist in the past year, according to a new report from Statistics Canada

Based on data from the 2022 Canadian Community Health Survey, it also found that approximately the same percentage of respondents, or 35%, did not have dental insurance, while nearly a quarter avoided dental care due to costs.

This information comes as the federal government works on creating a new national dental insurance plan, which would cover up to nine million people with family incomes under $90,000. A key requirement in the NDP's supply and confidence agreement with the ruling Liberals allocated $13 billion for this plan over the next five years, with coverage expected to begin by the end of 2023.

According to Statistics Canada, only 55% of Canadians have private dental insurance through their employer, university, or other means, while 4% currently have coverage through a publicly funded plan. Of those with insurance, 76% visited a dentist in the last 12 months compared to 51% of those without insurance.

Among those without insurance, 40% stated that they avoided dental care due to its cost. Nearly half of Canadians in the lowest income group reported visiting a dentist in the past year, compared to almost three-quarters of those in the highest income group.

The Canadian Dental Association recommends most people have a dental check-up every six months.

Women were more likely than men to report receiving dental care in the last 12 months, with rates at 68% and 62%, respectively. Young Canadians aged 12 to 17 were also more likely to have visited a dentist (79%) compared to those aged 65 and older (60%). People aged 65 and older were half as likely (33%) to have dental insurance compared to those aged 35 to 49 (69%).

A smaller proportion of people in Quebec (62%), New Brunswick (62%), Saskatchewan (60%), and Newfoundland and Labrador (55%) reported visiting a dentist compared to other provinces. Dental insurance was also more prevalent in urban areas and outside of Quebec.

The survey also noted that expenses pose a significant barrier for racial and non-heterosexual individuals.

The Canadian Community Health Survey on the Health of Canadians, conducted from February to December 2022, includes Canadians in provinces aged 12 and older. Statistics Canada claims it provides "the most up-to-date data on Canadians' access to dental services and their use of them."