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New dentist office on wheels caring for seniors in Toronto-run long-term care homes

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There’s a new mobile dental-care program making the rounds in Toronto.

Toronto Public Health has two vans with built-in dental clinics that are travelling around the city to provide care to seniors in 10 long-term care homes operated by the city.

“Everything is on site, so it’s accessible, it’s timely and it’s free,” Dr. Karen Lee, a dentist with the mobile team, told CTV News Toronto Monday following an announcement about the program.

The vans are equipped to handle patients using wheelchairs and allow for a range of services from cleaning, fillings and x-rays to surgery and dentures.

Teams expect to care for more than 2,600 residents.

“To promote health and equity to those who could not afford it or access it,” Dr. Eileen De Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, said of the program.

The vans have already visited Kipling Acres Long-Term Care Home, Castleview Wychwood Towers and Bendale Acres Long-Term Care Home.

Resident Jovita Deguzman. 92, said she has been dealing with a few dental issues which are expensive. She is looking forward to giving the mobile clinic a try.

“Excited, happy and grateful,” she said.

While not everyone is eligible for care in the vans because it depends on their insurance, Deguzman qualifies for some of the services.

“If I go to the clinic, I have to take a taxi, or see if someone can drive me. It’s hard, it’s winter, the roads, so this is really convenient.”

The provincial government funded the program with Toronto Public Health doing the dental work.

The aim is to help bridge the link between oral care and overall health, which if unchecked, can lead to problems.

“They don’t eat well, they don’t smile well and if there’s an infection it can lead them sometimes to emergency,” said Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow.

“It’s about making sure seniors have access to the right care in the right place,” said Stan Cho, Ontario’s Minister of Long-Term Care. 

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