Windsor Essex County Health Unit
Oral health programs
Good oral health is important to
everyone’s overall health and well-being.
Most oral health conditions, such as cavities
and gum disease, are largely preventable
through daily brushing, flossing and regular
check-ups with your dentist. Taking proper
care of your teeth and gums is a lifelong
commitment that should be learned at an
early age when teeth are developing.
It is important to pass on oral health
knowledge and habits to children as oral
health can affect a child’s development. Poor
oral health can lead to issues with eating
and speech development. Dental issues and
oral pain can also result in missed school
days and impact learning and behaviour.
Public health units are well-situated to
take a leading role in improving oral health
in the communities they serve. The
Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, along
with all other public health units in Ontario,
offers various oral health programs and
services as outlined in the Ontario Public
Health Standards. In Ontario, public health
units are governed by these standards and
they outline what programs and services the
board of health is responsible to offer the
Ontario’s public health units provide
the Healthy Smiles Ontario program, which
is a government-funded dental program
that provides free preventive, routine and
emergency dental services for children and
youth 17 years old and under from
low-income households. Health units also
provide free routine dental screenings to
students in elementary schools.
Every year, dental hygienists and dental
To find out more
about the oral
offered at the
County Health Unit
assistants from the health unit visit all
publicly funded and some privately funded
elementary schools in Windsor and Essex
County to screen Kindergarten and Grade
2 students. Depending on these screening
results, additional students from other
grades at that school may be screened.
Every effort is made to inform the
parents/guardians about the dental
screening prior to the visit.
Parents/guardians may exclude their child
from screening by notifying the school
principal/secretary in writing prior to the
date of the screening. A letter of no consent
will be honoured for that school year only.
• The screening is done with a “no
touch” technique although gloves are
• A 10 to 30 second visual look inside a
child’s mouth is done with the aid of a
sterilized mouth mirror and a light
• Children are provided a new
toothbrush and are educated on how to
brush and floss their teeth.
• Each child is given a dental report card.
This report card highlights the findings
of the screening.
School dental screenings help identify
children who may need emergency care, or
may benefit from preventive dental services.
The dental hygienist follows up with all
children requiring further urgent
dental care. If the parents/guardians do not
comply with the child’s dental needs this is
considered dental neglect and the Health
Unit is obligated to refer the case to
Children’s Aid Society under the Ontario
Child and Family Act.
School dental screenings are not meant
to replace regular dental checkups by a
licensed dental professional. The data
collected from school dental screenings is
used to help plan for future oral health
services and health promotion and
prevention programs in Windsor-Essex
Adopting good oral health habits are
important for everyone and we can start
new habits at any age! Healthy oral habits
include brushing and flossing daily, regular
dental check-ups, and making nutritious
food choices, including less sugary treats
Visit www.wechu.org to find more information about oral health programs and
services for you and your family!
6 The HUB -November 2016