Ontario Expands Free Dental Care for Eligible Children and Youth

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More than 323,000 children from low-income families are getting free dental care through the new Healthy Smiles Ontario program. Under the expanded program, Ontario is providing free dental care to help families raise healthier kids. Children from low-income families can access free preventive, routine, emergency and essential care from licensed dental providers.

Ontario has integrated six publicly funded dental programs into one, providing a simplified enrolment process and making it easier for eligible children to get the care they need. These changes also mean that 70,000 more children from low-income families have become eligible for free dental services. Applicants can now sign up for this program online at ontario.ca/healthysmiles. They can also contact their local public health unit for information and support.

Research demonstrates that untreated oral health problems can affect a child’s ability to eat, sleep and concentrate in school, which can impact their growth and development. The new Healthy Smiles Ontario program is part of Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy commitment to build community capacity to deliver oral health prevention and treatment services to children and youth from low-income families in Ontario.

Investing in dental care for children and youth is part of the government’s plan to build a better Ontario through its Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care, which provides patients with faster access to the right care; better home and community care; the information they need to live healthy; and a health care system that is sustainable for generations to come. 

Dr. Eric Hoskins Minister Of HealthQUOTES

“We are making it easier for children to get the dental care they need 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. Families are encouraged to visit ontario.ca/healthysmiles to find out if they’re eligible and to enrol in this program. Tooth decay is one of the most common childhood diseases, but it’s preventable with the proper dental care, and our expanded Healthy Smiles program is helping more kids access these important services.”

— Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care


“A healthy smile on a child not only gives a visual idea of a child’s oral health but it also reflects the critical issue of a healthy child free from the pain and health consequences of dental disease, including cavities and gum disease. We’re helping low-income families to raise healthier kids by getting them the dental care they need and the smile they deserve.”

— Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario


Dr. Victor Kutcher ODA“Ontario’s dentists support and advocate for accessible dental care for all. The ODA was pleased when the government streamlined six children’s oral-care programs into the Healthy Smiles Ontario program. Eliminating duplication and creating a single program means more children and youth can go to school with a healthy smile. We will continue to work with the government to ensure sustainable and equitable funding for dental programs.”

— Dr. Victor Kutcher, President, Ontario Dental Association


  • Tooth decay is one of the most prevalent and preventable chronic diseases, particularly among children. It is the leading cause of day surgeries for children ages one to five and rates are four times higher for children from the least (versus the most) affluent neighbourhoods.
  • Healthy Smiles Ontario covers regular visits to a licensed dental provider, such as a dentist or dental hygienist. It covers dental services including check-ups, cleaning, fillings, X-rays, and urgent/emergency oral health issues.
  • Ontario engaged in significant consultation with community and public health partners as well as dental associations to develop the new Healthy Smiles Ontario program.



1 Comment to Ontario Expands Free Dental Care for Eligible Children and Youth

  1. Protecting students from sexual misconduct and pornography

    An imperative of society is to protect our most vulnerable. Our children are our future, and we must do all we can to make sure they have a chance to grow and prosper, and to do so without fear of harm.

    People have always been concerned about the safety of their children with respect to sexual misconduct and child pornography. Society has measures in place, and the police are empowered to put a spotlight on these issues. There are checks and balances in place and measure to assess risk, mitigate risk, and monitor people who may be offending.

    In 2011, The Toronto Star published a series of articles that looked into issues around the disciplinary measures taken by the Ontario College of Teachers. Specifically, they found there was less and less transparency around how these issues were being dealt with. In the Star’s words, they found that, “more and more, the identity of bad teachers is being kept secret.”

    Bill 37, the Protecting Students Act, amends the Ontario College of Teachers Act and the Early Childhood Educators Act to continue to implement recommendations stemming from the 2012 LeSage Report.

    But, despite some improvements contained in Bill 37, the question arises: Why has it taken the government so long to move on this file? The recommendations from LeSage report were made four years ago.

    The bill mandates hearings before deciding on revoking a teacher’s licence, and, hearings to reinstate someone back into the system if they’ve been convicted. In the past, a teacher could reapply to reacquire teaching status after one year from the date the licence had been revoked.
    My question: Do we have confidence in the membership of the committee that conducts these hearings? Will there be experts in this field? Should there be someone on this panel from children’s aid or a lawyer or a psychologist or an expert in child abuse or pedophilia?

    A number of speakers have raised the issue of teachers or early childhood educators being falsely accused. It is incumbent on us to ensure that those kinds of protections are in place as well.

    This fall I watched Indictment: The McMartin Trial. It’s a film based on a 1980’s court case in California, where members of the McMartin family were charged and jailed for alleged sexual molestation and abuse of children in their family-run preschool.

    This ended up being one of the most expensive and longest-running criminal trials in US legal history. Their guilt had already been established by the media, aided and abetted by the prosecutor and what was portrayed as an unprofessional therapist who assisted the children to fabricate stories of abuse. All charges were eventually dropped after years of sex abuse hysteria.

    People have been falsely accused and we must make sure we are protecting all concerned – students and teachers. With respect to the issue of false accusations, we are told details will be set out in regulation.

    The importance of Bill 37 cannot be underestimated. We owe it to our students, our children and our grandchildren to eliminate any risk to their safety. We owe it to our teachers to create a better environment for them through an improved system that will more effectively protect good teachers and punish those who do harm.

    Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett

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