If you're an adult on welfare in British Columbia you're not much better off. The only 'dental care' that is covered is tooth extraction. Again, no oral exams, no fillings; and you can forget permanent or temporary replacements for your teeth. Even with extractions, you can run into problems. Dentists are reluctant to do them at all or in a timely fashion because the BC government pays them (eventually) according to a long outdated fee schedule.
No access to dental care results in more than the obvious, i.e. it affects more than 'mere' aesthetics (which is important given how the condition of your mouth affects your smile and the way people perceive you) or the ability to chew food or the maintenance of overall good health.
No access to professional care also affects one's ability to communicate.
I was always conscious when facilitating workshops and doing presentations for WISE of the extra care I must take not to slur my words.
You see, my teeth have eroded. Three molars were extracted over a decade ago. This was back when I had dental coverage under a university student plan. I wish the dentist had recommended filling instead, which he should have done. I suspect he anticipated insured replacement work.
In addition, two of my remaining molars are chipped. Another has a gaping hole in it, a result of its ancient filling having fallen out. I chew my food very carefully - more gumming it than anything else - to preserve what teeth I have left.
All of which means my cheeks have sunk in and affect my ability to articulate properly.
When doing presentations or workshops for WISE I had to make a conscious effort to try to open my already naturally small mouth wider to enable my words to be shaped properly. This was a constant concern and a physical challenge and it added to my tension of speaking in public.
If I could be granted one wish, it would be to have my mouth fixed.
ETA: Regarding the "free" dental clinic in Victoria which Melissa mentioned below in the comments section, a friend wrote to them because, she said, she was curious. Here's a portion of their response:
We are NOT a free dental clinic; we are a non-profit organization, which operates through a small subsidization from the Vancouver Health Authority and fundraising, so therefore we are not able to provide “free care.” However, we do see patients on Government Assistance ... without charging above and beyond what the Ministry will cover. [This is no different than any BC dentist is permitted to do. --Ocean] For people with no dental coverage we offer a 30% discount to help off-set the cost of dental care.While the 30 percent reduction off their regular rates may help a subset of people who live below the poverty line, it doesn't help those living in the lowest decile of income, as Daphne and I do, and that's regardless of whether you live in Victoria, which Daphne and I don't. Travel to the clinic via public transit from where we live would cost a minimum $20.
This part makes me ill. It indicates how desperate the need is for dental coverage for all, not just for people with employee-based dental plans or the well-to-do:
We are currently booking several months down the road, into November/December for both cleanings and dental work such as fillings. If you have an emergency that cannot wait that long, we offer “walk ins” between booked appointments, as time allows, Monday through Friday. If you want to come see us that way, you need to be here no later than 8am to line up, as the line up begins before we open the doors at 9:00am.Incidentally, until last fall, neither bus nor commuter train could get someone who lived in the Cowichan Valley - which is about 45 minutes away by car - to Victoria before 10am, Monday to Friday. In the reverse direction, yes, but to Victoria, where the jobs are, no. How brilliant was that, eh?