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Executive Summary

Oral health is vital to general health and overall well-being at every stage of life. Most oral health conditions are largely preventable, yet people may not properly care for their teeth through their own health habits or lack of resources to seek professional preventive dental care. Oral health issues share common risk factors with other chronic diseases, as well as their underlying social determinants of health, such as income, employment, education, or other social factors that can impact health.

Public health units are well-situated to take a leading role in improving oral health in the communities they serve. The Oral Health 2016 Report was prepared by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit to provide baseline information about the oral health status of, and public services currently offered in, our community. The key findings are summarized below.

Oral health profile of Windsor-Essex County:

  • Nearly 1 in 3 residents report having no form of dental insurance coverage.
  • Over 1 in 4 residents do not regularly visit the dentist for annual check-ups.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 residents report brushing their teeth less than twice per day.
  • Residents from low income households consistently had less dental insurance coverage, were less likely to visit the dentist for regular annual check-ups, and had poorer overall oral health status and habits.
  • There is an average of 544 emergency department visits each year for oral health issues.
  • Each year, there is an average of 806 oral day surgeries among children and youth. The rate of oral day surgeries is greatest in Leamington and certain parts of Windsor.
  • None of the nine municipalities in Windsor-Essex County fluoridate their water supplies.

Oral health programs in Windsor-Essex County:

  • In the 2014-2015 school year, 15,868 children from 116 schools were screened for oral health issues. School screening results from 2011 to 2015 indicate that oral health is worsening for children in Windsor-Essex County.
  • When compared to Windsor, children from Leamington had more decayed/missing/filled teeth, and children from LaSalle and Tecumseh had fewer decayed/missing/filled teeth.
  • In 2015, there were 283 children (0-4 years old) screened through the Baby Oral Health Programs (BOHP).
  • The health unit provided preventive services to 2,232 children (<18 years old) in 2015 at its oral health clinics in Windsor, Essex, and Leamington.
  • In 2015, there were 865 children eligible for the Children in Need of Treatment (CINOT) program and 666 children in the Healthy Smiles Ontario (HSO) program.
  • The Ontario Works program covered $948,422 in dental expenses for children in 2015; most of this went to restorative, preventive, and diagnostic services.

Evaluative Oral Health Clinic Survey (Windsor-Essex County Health Unit):

  • Caregivers bringing their children to the health unit dental clinics were well-educated and spoke a variety of languages; 16% were new Canadians.
  • The primary reason for visiting the clinic was for a check-up. Of the children visiting the clinic, 44% did not have a dentist and 46% of caregivers did not visit the dentist regularly. The main reasons for not having a dentist were no insurance coverage and the high cost of care.
  • Seventy percent (70%) of caregivers were unsure about whether their community water supply is fluoridated.