$700,000 to support healthy smiles

Families, Health Monday, March 18, 2013 10:15 AM

VICTORIA - Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid announced today that government is providing the BC Dental Association with $700,000 to eliminate a backlog of patients with severe dental-facial deformities who are awaiting extensive prosthetic treatment, including surgery.

"Many of these patients have struggled with facial deformities since they were children, while others were faced with life-altering deformities following cancer treatment," said MacDiarmid. "This treatment will dramatically improve quality of life, giving patients not only new smiles, but the ability to chew and speak, while providing renewed hope and self-confidence."

The funding is being provided as part of a service agreement with the BC Dental Association to eliminate a wait-list of an estimated 65 patients who are awaiting dental-facial reconstruction. Typically, about 30 to 40 patients are identified each year with complex prosthetic needs.

Many patients have lived with the deformities throughout their childhood, as surgery cannot be performed until the bone structure has finished growing, generally around age 20. Others have developed dental-facial deformities after cancer treatment.

As part of this funding, a complex prosthodontic program has been established to facilitate a collaboration of medical and dental specialists experienced in these complex rehabilitations. Through the program, the BC Dental Association will work with the BC Cancer Agency, BC Children's Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital to identify and treat patients under a centralized multidisciplinary model of care.

"This funding will change people's lives," said Dr. John Carpendale, director, complex prosthodontic program and representative of the BC Dental Association. "The simple things we take for granted in everyday life such as eating, speaking and simply looking good are not feasible for this patient pool without rehabilitative care. The complex prosthodontic program will assist patients in meeting these basic needs."

It is estimated that 10 patients are identified per year with ectodermal dysplasia, a genetic disorder that requires dental or facial reconstruction, while a number of others will develop face and neck cancers that require prosthodontic treatment following cancer treatment.

"Treating oral cancer is just one part of the recovery process," said Paul Walkey, a patient from Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island who previously benefited from prosthetic care. "Due to the advanced nature of my cancer, treatment required removing the floor of my mouth, part of my jaw and most of my lower teeth. Once the cancer was successfully removed, my mouth required an extensive rebuild. Simple day-to-day tasks such as eating and speaking were no longer so simple. It was wonderful to have funding available to access the rehabilitative care I required to improve the function of my mouth-without it my recovery would have been considerably delayed."

About the complex prosthodontic program:

The complex prosthodontic program is a multi-stakeholder collaboration that brings together the expertise of prosthodontists; oral surgeons; pediatric dentists; plastic surgeons; radiologists; ear, nose, and throat surgeons; and other specialists to centralize and improve efficiencies in the delivery of care to patients with complex dentofacial prosthodontic treatment needs. The program supports patients with severe dental-facial deformities due to ectodermal dysplasia (a genetic disorder) and post head/neck cancer therapy patients through a $700,000 funding grant provided by the Ministry of Health.

Through separate funding, the program also will support adult survivors of childhood cancers and severe dentofacial anomalies due to trauma. The treatment is essential to improve function, aesthetics, health and quality of life for those affected. For more information, visit: www.bcdental.org/

About ectodermal dysplasia:

Ectodermal dysplasia is a genetic condition that affects hair, teeth, nails, sweat glands and facial bones. Teeth are frequently absent or pointed. The tooth enamel is often defective.

Media Contacts:

Ryan Jabs
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)

Susan Boyd
Manager, Communications
British Columbia Dental Association
604 714-2383

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