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Canada's new dental care plan: Expert breaks down eligibility, how to apply, what's covered & more

The federal government unveiled its $13-billion insurance program, the Canadian Dental Care Plan, earlier this week.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.

The federal government unveiled the Canadian Dental Care Plan earlier this week. (Photo via Getty Images)
The federal government unveiled the Canadian Dental Care Plan earlier this week. (Photo via Getty Images)

"You can't separate the mouth from the rest of the body. You can't have good health without having good oral health."

That's what dean of Dalhousie University's school of dentistry Dr. Ben Davis tells Yahoo Canada, as the federal government prepares to launch the Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP).

As head of one of the country's top dental schools, Davis says he feels this is a huge step forward.

"I'm not suggesting that it's perfect, but I'm extremely grateful for the Government of Canada's decision to invest in oral health," he says.

"Unfortunately, oral health has traditionally fallen outside of traditional health care delivery models: Up until this plan, it has not been funded publicly, and this has really resulted in massive health inequities we see every single day in our clinics."

Unveiled on Monday, the ambitious CDCP was spearheaded by the NDP and aims to provide access to oral care for an estimated nine million Canadians who are currently going without, covering a swath of services from teeth cleaning to dentures. Depending on a successful applicant's income level, services will either be completely paid for by the government, or the applicant will be required to pay a portion of their dental bill.

It's a plan that is going to improve the health, and reduce health inequities, of Canadians.Dr. Ben Davis

Want to know more about the CDCP? Get more details on the plan, what it covers and how to know if you're eligible below.

What is the Canadian Dental Care Plan?

An expansion of the pre-existing Canada Dental Benefit, the CDCP will cover most basic dentistry costs for uninsured Canadians in households that earn less than $90,000 a year. Those aged 87 and older are the first cohort able to apply — provided they meet the eligibility criteria.

While those with a household income of less that $90,000 are eligible, there is a further breakdown in costs, reports CBC News. Households with an adjusted family net income of $70,000 or less are not required to pay anything to participating dentists, hygienists or denturists. Those earning between $70,000 and $79,999 are required to pay 40 per cent of services received, with the federal plan paying the rest. Those with household incomes of $80,000 to $89,999 are required to pay 60 per cent of services.

People aged 87 and older can currently apply for the Canadian Dental Care Plan. Next month, the cohort will include those between ages 77 and 86, and then 72 and 76 by February. Canadians between the ages of 18 and 65 will have to wait until 2025 to apply. (Photo via Getty Images)
People aged 87 and older can currently apply for the Canadian Dental Care Plan. Next month, the cohort will include those between ages 77 and 86, and then 72 and 76 by February. Canadians between the ages of 18 and 65 will have to wait until 2025 to apply. (Photo via Getty Images)

How do I know if I'm eligible for the Canadian Dental Care Plan?

Canadian residents with a household income of under $90,000 (as per their adjusted family net income) and no access to other insurance are eligible, so long as they've filed their tax return for the previous year.

If you have access to a provincial or territorial dental benefit, you remain eligible for the federal plan.

For now, those aged 87 and older meeting this criteria can apply, with younger people being allowed to apply in staggered stages later.

In January 2024, those between ages 77 and 86 can apply. The following month, people aged 72 to 76 will be eligible. In March, applications for eligible Canadians aged 70 to 71 will open. Then in May, people between ages 65 and 69 can apply. In 2025, qualifying Canadians aged 18 to 65 will be able to apply.

All users of the Canadian Dental Care Plan have their eligibility reassessed annually.

What does it mean to not have access to other insurance?

The government considers any of the following to mean that you don't have access to insurance:

  • If coverage is not available through your employer or the employer benefits of a family member

  • If coverage is not available via your pension or the pension benefits of a family member

  • If you or a family member have not purchased coverage

Services like teeth whitening, mouth guards and implants won't be covered by the Canadian Dental Care Plan. (Photo via Getty Imags)
Services like teeth whitening, mouth guards and implants won't be covered by the Canadian Dental Care Plan. (Photo via Getty Imags)

How do I apply for the Canadian Dental Care Plan?

The first step is making sure you've filed your most recent taxes.

Seniors who may be eligible will receive letters in the mail outlining how to apply through Service Canada. The letter will explain how to confirm your eligibility and guide would-be applicants through a telephone application process that uses an automated system. Keep an eye out for your letter if you'll be 70 years or older by March 2024.

As soon as you complete the telephone application, the system will inform you if you're eligible and if you've been accepted. By May, as more age groups are able to apply, an online portal will be launched to process applications.

What does the Canadian Dental Care Plan cover?

The CDCP covers a wide range of services, including:

  • Preventive or maintenance services like teeth cleaning, polishing, sealants and fluoride

  • Diagnostic services, such as X-rays and examinations

  • Restorative services like crowns, fillings and dentures

  • Complete and partial dentures

  • Root canals, deep scaling and extractions

Implants, mouth guards and teeth whitening are all services that fall outside of coverage.

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