Just ask about oral health

Darrell Cole
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Art contest supports program

Community health boards across the county are participating in a program encouraging parents to ask dentists about what MSI covers for their children.

Dayle Wilson and Alex Theroux of the SOAR Community Health Board look over Just Ask cards with (front, from left) Cohen Peck, Zachery Gordon and Layne Peck. The community health boards have printed 5,000 copies of the cards as well as posters for dentist offices. The cards will also be sent to parents.

AMHERST – Cumberland County’s community health boards are trying novel ways to get the word out about oral health coverage for are children.

The health boards recently collected drawings from children across the county that they are putting on posters and cards that are going out to parents of elementary students from across the county.

The Just Ask posters and cards will also be at Cumberland County’s dentist offices.

“There are a lot of parents out there who still don’t realize that MSI will pay for dental services for their children and many are too shy to ask the question when they go to the dentist office,” community health boards co-ordinator Colleen Dowe said. “In many cases, a parent’s first encounter with their child’s dentist is when something’s really wrong or when there’s an emergency.”

When the three community health boards completed their health plan for the 2012-15 period, they identified improving oral health as one of their priorities. 

The boards found that oral health issues are the most common chronic disease of children with a prevalence rate five times that of asthma while dental disease may be a painful condition that affects a child’s ability to eat, sleep, communicate and socialize.

MSI has indicated that coverage available to young children is often underutilized.

Dowe said marketing campaigns like Just Ask explain the existing oral health coverage for children under age 14. The coverage was expanded from under age 10 to under 14 earlier this year.

“We’ve heard use of the MSI coverage was only 50 per cent of what it should be,” Dowe said. “People are fearful of the cost of going to the dentist and are intimidated to ask the question about what’s covered and what’s not covered.”

Alex Theroux, chairwoman of the SOAR Community Health Board, is hoping parents will see the posters and begin to ask about MSI coverage for their children.

“The main thing we want to do is to overcome the fear of dentists. One of the ways of doing that is by children telling other children that they have nothing to fear at the denist,”

Dowe said the community health boards will continue to work with Public Health and dentists to overcome the barriers to oral health. She added 5,000 copies of the cards have been printed and more than 300 were already given away during Police Week celebrations at the Amherst Centre on Thursday.


Twitter: @ADNdarrell


Organizations: SOAR Community Health Board, Amherst Centre

Geographic location: Cumberland County

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