Recently, attention has been placed on the issue of poor access to dental care, and the implications this may have for health care systems, in particular emergency department use for basic dental problems. In 2006, approximately 26,000 of 12 million Ontarians used acute-care hospital services for select dental problems, representing a cost of $16.4 million. There were 964 hospital admissions. The majority of use is by low-income adults. Although better access to dental care may lessen this burden on the health care system, the potential costs averted are considerably less than current proposals to improve access to dental care for low-income groups in Canada. Justifying renewed government investments in dental care in economic terms will require a broader assessment of costs; these data provide a starting-point for policymakers.


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