Bad Teeth an Obstacle to Finding a Job
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/15/2012 -- The newly formed Kingston Dental Coalition recently asked the city council for $100,000 in annual funding to provide dental care to help Ontario Works recipients gain employment.
Testifying before the council, Chantal Robinson, 27 and a mother of two, said she cannot find a job. "One thing stopping me? My teeth don't make a good first impression," she said.
Robinson said that potential employers often reject her application owing to her appearance. She added that she hoped the trend does not continue and advocated for funding for the Kingston Dental Coalition, which says the funding would put more people to work while helping them avoid costly emergency room visits.
"It's not their fault,” said Dr. Jim Leake, former head of community dentistry at the University of Toronto. He is assisting the coalition in its lobbying efforts. “The system just doesn't support them in any way. It's just not fair.”
Good oral care is not just important for individuals, but for the entire community, say coalition members.
"We are making a health and citizenship argument to help," said coalition member Ron Shore, director of clinical services at the Kingston Community Health Centres. Poor oral care often leads to diabetes, cardiovascular and other health problems, he added.
Dr. Leake emphasized that the misperception that people cause their own dental problems through neglect and over-consumption of harmful substances is rampant and must be changed. “We call that blaming the victim,” he said, noting that some people just cannot afford regular dental checkups.
Robinson confirmed as much, saying her rotting teeth are due to hereditary conditions that cause receding gum lines and tooth enamel deficiency. "I do brush my teeth. I can't floss because it makes my gums bleed. … With all the discrimination I've been getting I've been through a lot and it's kind of put me on hold because of the way the appearance with my teeth is."
Following the recent hearing, a local dentist offered to remove her decaying teeth and replace them with dentures.
"I'm really happy and excited," she said, after hearing of the offer for free dental care. "I can't wait. It's going to make my life better and my kids' futures a whole lot better."
The coalition stresses that there are many others in a similar situation to Robinson, all of whom would benefit from a financial contribution from the city.
The council is expected to refer the request for $100,000 to budget talks later this fall.
Several councilors have expressed concerns that providing the funding could set a precedent difficult to keep up.
Councilor Rick Downes, who made the motion to find $100,000 in tax funding to assist those in need of dental work, said his work with the coalition has been enlightening.
The council said it would debate the funding request on Oct. 16.
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