January 18, 2019 6:45 pm
Updated: January 18, 2019 8:49 pm

Quebec to provide dental coverage for children with cancer

WATCH: Quebec's health minister has announced that medicare will cover the cost of dental care for children who have undergone cancer treatment. Coverage includes reconstructive surgery well into adulthood.

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Quebec families with children who have cancer will no longer have to foot the bill for certain dental work.

The province announced on Friday that medicare now cover the cost of dental care for young cancer survivors who have dental problems as a result of having undergone chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

“We’re going to cover preventive care,” said Health and Social Services Minister Danielle McCann at the announcement in Montreal.

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“There are certain interventions that have to be done and also we’re going to cover the surgery because there are some reconstruction surgery that can be required.”

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For some, the coverage could continue well into adulthood

“Sometimes because of the evolution of the mouth and the teeth, it’s better to wait, so we’re going to cover sometimes 20 or 30 year-olds,” said McCann.

In Quebec, about 300 kids are diagnosed with cancer every year, and about half will be at risk for dental problems.

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McCann says it makes sense for the dental care cost be covered in this case, because in other circumstances — for example if a child has dental complications as the result of an accident — the province foots the bill.

Marie-Eve Asselin, head of the dental department at the Sainte-Justine Hospital, says they had been hoping for Friday’s announcement for some time.

“For some of these families it was a very big financial burden so we’re very happy that they can get coverage,” she said.

The cost for some treatments can exceed $70, 000.

A step in the right direction

Barry Doleman, president of the Quebec Order of Dentists, who say though Friday’s announcement is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to cover the dental care needs of kids.

One area of concern for him is medically required dental treatment.

“Which could be, for example, children that are born with cranial facial deformities,” he said.

“It’s not their fault they were born that way. They should be able to have coverage in the same way that children that have been affected by radiotherapy or chemotherapy.”

The province covers the costs of some dental care for children under 10 years old. Doleman and others have been pushing the province to have dental care be viewed as part of general health, but the minister says there are no plans yet to extend coverage beyond what was announced Friday.

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