Oral Health

Oral health (dental health)  involves the health of your mouth. This includes your teeth, gums, jaw bone, palate (roof of the mouth), tongue, lips and the inside of your cheeks. It deals with “More Than Just Cavities” (PDF).

Many people don’t realize that good oral health is important for good overall health. Research has found strong links between poor oral health and other serious health conditions including diabetes and heart disease. We want to prevent that. The Thunder Bay District Health Unit’s role in oral health is to:

  • Provide preventive oral health services
  • Provide oral health screening and recommendations
  • Provide assistance to  families who need help covering dental costs
  • Promote healthy smiles for life


What We Do

No-Cost Dental Programs

The TBDHU assists families in need of accessing basic dental services for their children.

To find out more about our programs and services listed below, and to see if you qualify, please contact us at (807) 625-5900 (Thunder Bay) or toll-free 1-888-294-6630 (District).


Healthy Smiles Ontario

Healthy Smiles Ontario (HSO) offers no-cost dental services for children 17 and under who meet the program’s eligibility requirements. Learn more about this program by visit Healthy Smiles Ontario. If you need assistance the TBDHU will help you access this program.


Preventive Services

The TBDHU offers a variety of preventive services for eligible children ages 17 and under:

  • Scaling (professional cleaning that removes hard deposits and stains to improve smile and maintain healthy teeth and gums)
  • Topical fluoride (strengthens teeth and helps prevent cavities)
  • Sealants (protective coatings for the teeth to help prevent cavities)
  • Oral health instruction (tips for keeping a healthy mouth – and a healthy smile)

To qualify, each child must first be screened by a TBDHU Registered Dental Hygienist who will recommend whether preventive services are needed. The screening is either done at school (during annual visits by the Health Unit's dental team) or by appointment at the Health Unit's Dental Clinic.


What About Screening at School?

If your child is screened at school, you will receive a “Tooth Check” card that tells you what services the Registered Dental Hygienist recommended. More information can be found on the Dental Screening in Schools page.


Fluoride Varnish Program

Fluoride varnish is a protective coating that is painted onto the teeth. It strengthens teeth by making them harder and more resistant to decay. The TBDHU provides this at no cost to all children under four years old. For more information, please visit the Fluoride Varnish page.


Oral Health and You

Community Drinking Water Fluoridation

Fluoridation is the practice of adding fluoride to drinking water to improve oral  health. TBDHU supports water fluoridation. Based on scientific research, fluoridated drinking water strengthens teeth and reduces cavities.

The Communities within Thunder Bay and District have a non-fluoridated water supply.

For more information, please visit Health Canada and the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


For Further Information

Call the Oral Health Program: (807) 625-5900

or toll-free at 1-888-294-6630

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