BC Government Seeks to Reduce Dental Wait Times for Patients with Disabilities

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced this past Monday that there will be 900 more dental procedures performed under general anesthetic in the coming year, a 15% increase over the last year for patients with disabilities. The move is meant to help patients with developmental disabilities and complex medical conditions get access to dental treatment more quickly.

Many note that it\’s not uncommon to discover that some behavioural problems displayed by children with autism are actually linked to dental infections. A number of people with severe autism or developmental disabilities require general anesthetic for routine dental procedures, like taking X-rays, filling cavities or cleaning teeth. When those patients also have difficulties with communication, that means serious dental problems can be overlooked for years.

With the new additions, the total number of dental surgeries for 2018-2019 will be 7,100, up from 6,200 in 2017-2018. This year, 15% of patients waited more than 26 weeks for dental surgery, according to the province.

Many still say that this is not enough. They note that 7,100 in total each year is not going to meet the needs, even now, of people waiting for dental surgery, and often they\’re waiting in great pain and they can\’t express that pain.

One area that is not addressed by this is preventative care, which many highlight could really help for individuals with autism or other developmental disabilities.