Dental care will soon be more accessible for many British Columbians this year, following an announcement by the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.

In a release, the province said it would be doubling the amount of annual operating support for twenty-four not-for-profit dental clinics around the province which will help provide more low-cost and free dental care to approximately 54,000 people living in poverty.

In total, $3.6 million will be dispersed over the next three years, including a $2-million upgrade to dental equipment — like X-ray machines, dental chairs, pediatric equipment, and computer software — for all of the clinics.

“Too often, people living in poverty cannot afford to take proper care of their teeth because they have to put the basics like food and shelter first,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction in a statement.

“Access to quality, affordable dental health and hygiene care should be available to more people, and that’s why we’re making it a part of this government’s efforts to reduce poverty throughout B.C.”

Support from the BC Dental Association

The increased funding for dental care is part of the provincial government’s TogetherBC program, which hopes to reduce BC’s overall poverty rate by 25% and the child poverty rate by 50% by 2024.

“Oral health is an important component of our overall health,” said Raymon Grewal, president of the BC Dental Association.

“This funding will play a critical role in enhancing the access to dental care for financially vulnerable British Columbians, improving their quality of life and employment opportunities while also reducing the cost to the public health-care system by helping these patients remain free of oral pain and infection.”