This month, the federal government’s Minister of Indigenous Services, Dr. Jane Philpott, is to respond to the Auditor General’s criticism of Health Canada’s oral health program for indigenous people.
The criticism was blunt: Health Canada spends a lot (more than $200 million per year) on oral health services for the First Nations but has little to show for it. The First Nation’s oral health is, by any metric and for any age, very poor compared to non-indigenous Canada.
So on what is Health Canada spending to improve Aboriginal oral health?
Essentially dental surgery and fluoride.
Clearly, this mix of services hasn’t worked over the years. For one big reason.
Caries and periodontal disease stem from dental plaque which has become imbalanced — or dysbiotic. Until this dysbiosis is corrected, no amount of surgery or fluoride will address this disparity in the First Nation’s health.
It is not the level of spending on these oral health services which is the problem. It is the mix of spending.