[This post has been updated to reflect the expanded eligibility requirements for the Seniors Dental Care Program set to take effect August 1, 2021. See below for eligibility updates.]
Oral health plays a significant role in overall health and wellbeing. Aside from obvious problems like tooth pain, tooth decay, and tooth loss, conditions like diabetes can increase the risk of gum disease. And if that isn’t enough, gum disease and inflammation can increase the risk for heart disease.
As a senior, it is important to maintain healthy teeth and gums to avoid illness, enjoy the foods you eat, and show confidence in your smile.
Unfortunately, over half of Canadian seniors between the ages of 60 and 79 do not have any form of dental coverage. When living on a budget, dental care is often the first thing to go. But because dental health is intricately linked to so many other health conditions, failure to take of your teeth could cause more significant troubles down the road.
Fortunately, the province of Ontario has tried to address this problem through the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program (OSDCP).
The Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program offers free, routine dental care to eligible seniors!
The program includes:
- check-ups, including scaling, fluoride and polishing
- repairing broken teeth and cavities
- removing teeth or abnormal tissue (oral surgery)
- treating infection and pain (endodontic services)
- treating gum conditions and diseases (periodontal services)
- Partial coverage for Dental prosthetics (prosthodontic services) including dentures
OSDCP coverage lasts for one year and expires on July 31st (no matter when you first enroll). To maintain your coverage, you will have to renew your enrollment. You will receive notification in the mail regarding your eligibility and guidance on renewing enrollment.
You are eligible for OSDCP if:
- You are 65 or older
- A resident of Ontario
- meet the income requirements: an annual net income of $19,300 or less for a single senior or a combined annual net income of $32,300 or less for a couple
- have no other form of dental benefits, including private insurance or dental coverage under another government program such as Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support Program or Non-Insured Health Benefits
Beginning August 1, 2021, the income requirements change as follows:
- For single seniors, the annual net income requirement will be increased from $19,300 to $22,200.
- For couples, the combined annual net income requirement will be increased from $32,300 to $37,100.
These changes will allow more seniors to apply for the program. You can begin applying for OSDCP under the new eligibility on July 1, 2021.
When applying, you should provide your Social Insurance Number (SIN) so that income can be verified against your annual tax return.
If you do not have a SIN or did not file a tax return, you can still apply for the program through a guarantor. This individual should be able to confirm your identity, age, and residency.
Guarantors must be Canadian citizens over the age of 18 and must be a practicing member in good standing with a provincial regulatory body. Eligible guarantors include: doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, nurses, veterinarians, midwives, social workers or social service workers, teachers, vice-principals or principals in a primary or secondary school, mayors, and more.
You can apply for OSDCP online or through the mail. Visit ontario.ca to complete the online application, then print and sign the consent form and mail it to the address provided within 30 days. If you and your spouse or common-law partner are both applying for the program, you will each need to complete an application.
If you do not have online access and wish to apply by mail, you can get an application from the local health unit.
Once your application has been approved, you will receive a welcome package and a dental card in the mail. The welcome package will tell you everything you need to know about accessing services. If you need help finding a participating dentist in the Kingston area, contact the public health unit.
Dental care is vital to staying happy and healthy in your golden years. This program recognizes a need in Ontario’s seniors, so do not hesitate to take advantage of the opportunity!
For additional community support for seniors in Kingston and area, call the Council on Aging support line at 613-542-1336 or download the Seniors’ Guide to Community Resources, here.