How the new Canadian Dental Care Plan can benefit you and your family
Do you need dental care but can't afford it? Do you have no dental insurance or inadequate coverage? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be eligible for the new Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP), a federal program that will help cover some of the cost of oral health care services for millions of Canadians.
What is the CDCP?
The CDCP is a $13-billion insurance program launched by the federal government that will start covering most basic dentistry costs next year for uninsured Canadians with a household income under $90,000¹. That's about nine million Canadians, according to the federal government². In its current form, the plan is expected to cost the federal treasury about $4.4 billion per year².
The CDCP will help cover the cost of various oral health-care services, with the focus on "those deemed medically necessary by an oral health-care professional," according to the government of Canada website³. Services covered under the CDCP include:
- Preventive services, such as cleaning, polishing, sealants and fluoride
- Diagnostic services, such as examinations and X-rays
- Restorative services, such as fillings, crowns and dentures
- Endodontic services, such as root canal treatments
- Prosthodontic services, such as complete and partial removable dentures
- Periodontal services, such as deep scaling
- Oral surgery services, such as extractions
Some of these services will be available in the fall of 2024. Other services such as teeth whitening, implants and mouth guards will not be covered under the plan.
How can you apply?
Applications for the CDCP will open in phases. The first phase will start in June 2024 and will be open to eligible seniors aged 87 and older. Applications for other age groups will then be phased in with a staggered approach, with the process opening up to all eligible applicants aged 18 and above sometime in 2025².
To apply, you will need to provide proof of your identity, residency, income and dental insurance status. You can apply online through the government of Canada website³ or by mail using a paper application form that you can request by calling 1-800-622-6232. Once your application is approved, you will receive a CDCP card that you can use to access dental services from participating oral health-care providers.
How can you find a participating oral health-care provider?
The CDCP will pay a fixed fee for each covered service, based on a national fee guide that will be updated annually. Oral health-care providers who want to participate in the CDCP will have to agree to accept these fees as payment in full and not charge any additional fees to CDCP beneficiaries. They will also have to submit claims electronically to the CDCP's third-party benefits administrator and follow the CDCP's policies and procedures.
The government of Canada website³ will have a list of participating oral health-care providers that you can search by location, name or specialty. You can also ask your current oral health-care provider if they are willing to join the CDCP or if they can refer you to someone who is. You are free to choose any participating oral health-care provider that you prefer, as long as they have available appointments and accept new patients.
Why is the CDCP important?
The CDCP is a landmark initiative that aims to improve the oral health and well-being of millions of Canadians who face financial barriers to accessing dental care. According to a 2019 report by the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, about one-third of Canadians have no dental insurance and one-sixth of Canadians avoid visiting the dentist because of the cost. This can lead to serious oral health problems, such as tooth decay, gum disease, infections and tooth loss, as well as negative impacts on overall health, such as increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory infections and poor nutrition.
The CDCP will help reduce these health disparities and promote equity and social justice by providing affordable and accessible dental care to those who need it most. It will also help prevent more costly and complex dental treatments in the future by encouraging regular preventive care and early detection of oral health issues. Furthermore, the CDCP will contribute to the economic and social development of Canada by enhancing the productivity, employability and quality of life of its citizens.
What can you do to support the CDCP?
The CDCP is a result of years of advocacy and collaboration by various stakeholders, including dental associations, health organizations, academic institutions, civil society groups and political parties. The NDP leader Jagmeet Singh claimed that his party "forced" Ottawa to enact the program as a condition of the confidence-and-supply agreement that could keep the Liberals in power until 2025².
However, the CDCP is not a done deal yet. It still faces many challenges and uncertainties, such as the availability of funding, the participation of oral health-care providers, the coordination with provincial and territorial governments, and the potential opposition from private insurers and other critics
(1) Canadian Dental Care Plan - Canada.ca. https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/dental/dental-care-plan.html.
(2) Canada's new dental care plan could impact nearly 9 million Canadians .... https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/canada-dental-care-plan-benefit-1.7055975.
(3) Minister Khera highlights new Canadian Dental Care Plan in Budget 2023. https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/news/2023/03/minister-khera-highlights-new-canadian-dental-care-plan-in-budget2023-budget2023--a-made-in-canada-plan-strong-middle-class-affordable-economy-heal.html.