MLHU - Health Status Resource

Dental Insurance

Dental Insurance

Key Findings: 

In addition to household income, whether an individual has dental insurance greatly determines the overall quality of their oral health.1 This includes self-rated oral health, frequency of teeth brushing, regular dentist visits, and visits to the emergency department for non-traumatic oral health conditions. A lack of dental insurance is often an insurmountable barrier to dental care services because out-of-pocket expenses are unaffordable.2-6

In 2013/14, nearly two thirds (61.6%) of residents in Middlesex-London reported having dental insurance to cover dental expenses (partially or in full). This is less than the percentage reported across Ontario (64.0%) and the Peer Group (63.7%), but not by a significant amount (Figure 8.4.1). Percentages among those who lived in urban areas of Middlesex-London versus rural were nearly identical (61.9% vs. 59.9%). No significant differences were noted between males and females in Middlesex-London in regard to dental coverage.

In 2013/14, the retired population (65+ years old) in Middlesex-London reported the lowest percentage of dental coverage with only 38% reporting they had insurance. This was not significantly different from the 65+ year old population in Ontario and the Peer Group (Figure 8.4.2).

The percentage of the population reporting they had dental coverage increased as the level of education increased in 2013/14. Only 53.8% of Middlesex-London residents who had not completed secondary education reported having dental insurance while 65.3% of those who had a post-secondary education reported having dental insurance. This trend was also apparent across Ontario and the Peer Group (Figure 8.4.3).

Along with a higher education, a higher income also increased the percentage of residents reporting they had dental insurance in 2013/14. In general, a higher percentage of those in the lower income bracket (Quintile 1) reported not having dental coverage (42.5%). The highest percentage of dental coverage was among those with the highest income level (77.1%) (Figure 8.4.4). This trend was also apparent across Ontario and the Peer Group (not shown).


Income and insurance are important factors which determine whether an individual visits the dentist.2 This was evident in Middlesex-London when considering the lower percentages of dental coverage among groups of individuals with lower education levels and household income.

This coincides with residents in Middlesex-London reporting a lower frequency in visits to the dentist and a higher rate of visits to the emergency department for non-traumatic oral health conditions compared to those in Ontario and the Peer Group (Figure 8.3.4, Figure 8.3.6), whom both had slightly higher rates of dental coverage.

Ontario Public Health Standard: 

Ontario Public Health Standards: Requirements for Programs, Services, and Accountability−Chronic Disease Prevention and Well-Being (page 28)

Population Health Assessment and Surveillance Protocol, 2018


1. Public Health Ontario [Internet]. Toronto (ON): [2012] Report on access to dental care and oral health inequalities in Ontario; [cited 2019 Oct 10]. Available from:

2. Bhatti, T., Rana, Z., & Grootendorst, P. Dental insurance, income and the use of dental care in Canada. 2007 JCDA 73(1); 57-57h.

3. Millar WJ, Locker D. Dental insurance and use of dental services. Health Rep. 1999;11(1):55-67(Eng); 59-72(Fre).

4. Bedos C, Brodeur JM, Benigeri M, Oliver M. [Utilization of preventive dental services by recent immigrants in Canada] [Article in French]. Can J Public Health. 2004;95(3):219-23.

5. Locker D, Maggirias J, Quiñonez C. Income, dental insurance coverage, and financial barriers to dental care among Canadian adults. J Public Health Dent. 2011;71(4):327-34

6. Canadian dental association. The state of oral health in Canada. [Internet]. 2017 Mar. [cited 2019 Sept 24]. Available from:

7. Government of Ontario [Internet]. [2019 Jul 22] Teeth cleaning, check-ups and dental treatment for kids; [cited 2019 Oct 10]. Available from:

Last modified on: November 19, 2019

Jargon Explained

Dental insurance can include either:
1) Third-party insurance via your place of employment
2) Private insurance, or
3) Government-subsidized programs.1

Government-subsidized programs in Ontario include:
• Healthy Smiles Ontario (HSO)7
• Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program (OSDCP)*
*Currently being developed