For oral health month, Nunavut government offers advice and prizes

"A healthy body requires a healthy mouth"

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

The Government of Nunavut continues to promote tooth-brushing to improve the oral health of Nunavummiut and avoid tooth decay, a chronic but preventable disease, which is two to three times worse among Inuit than overall among Canadians. (FILE IMAGE)


The Government of Nunavut continues to promote tooth-brushing to improve the oral health of Nunavummiut and avoid tooth decay, a chronic but preventable disease, which is two to three times worse among Inuit than overall among Canadians. (FILE IMAGE)

April is Oral Health Month, and the Government of Nunavut is reminding its residents that “a healthy body requires a healthy mouth.”

To encourage dental visits from April 3 to April 27, the territory’s Health Department has planned events and activities for all ages—as well as a weekly handout of prizes.

The GN would also like Nunavummiut to work on improving their oral health today and every day, by following five steps:

• Brushing your teeth for two minutes, twice a day, and flossing daily.

• Checking your mouth regularly for any changes.

• Making healthy food choices.

• Avoiding use of tobacco products.

• Visiting your oral health care professional regularly.

You can check online to see when dentists and other dental specialists are visiting in your community.

While this schedule may look full, Nunavut has the lowest per capita rate of dentists in Canada after Newfoundland-Labrador, according to the 2017 State of Oral Health in Canada report.

That report came a year after the Canadian Dental Association said the oral health of Inuit required “serious attention” and called for “fundamental change” to Health Canada’s Non-Insured Health Benefits program.

The association said the program, which covers the cost for dental treatment for Inuit, is under-funded, with medical travel taking up the budget, instead of treatment for Inuit oral health.

For example, to keep costs down, second molars are no longer eligible for crown therapy under the NIHB, leaving no other funded option but extraction.

Even so, Nunavut spends up to 13 times more per person on dental care every year than any other jurisdiction in Canada—that is, roughly $5,000 for every man, woman and child compared $378 per capita nationally—but Inuit in the territory still suffer from poor oral health.

Mouth infections such as cavities and gum disease can worsen diabetes and heart disease, and cause pneumonia among elders, the GN said.

Missing teeth can also limit your ability to properly chew foods and can affect your nutrition, speech, social life, growth and development, and overall health.

Five years ago, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami made a call for more oral disease prevention among Inuit, more health promotion and treatment, and the reduction of practices such as extractions as the preferred treatment alternative for diseased teeth.

Among the actions ITK then proposed: mobilizing adolescents to improve oral hygiene, increasing the number of Inuit oral health service providers and encouraging better use and access to nutritional foods.

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