A push for universal dental care
In addition to her clinical role, Mary is also active in lobbying the Canadian government to introduce universal dental care, with government-subsidised dental visits.
In fact, it was while completing a unit on health promotions at JCU that Mary had the opportunity to prepare a policy on universal dental care. That policy was later adopted by the Green Party of Ontario as part of its election campaign.
“The argument for universal dental care was a major issue in the last provincial elections and was discussed by all parties. It is a continuing conversation that Canadians are having,” says Mary.
“In Canada, similar to Australia, dentistry is almost an exclusively private health service, with only those on very low incomes able to access any government-provided service. Most patients need assistance with bridging the gap in covering dental expenses, and as a result, they put off seeking treatment until there is an emergency.
“Unfortunately, the time it takes for tooth pain to get bad enough to seek a dentist is the time it can take for a cavity to turn into needing a tooth extraction. Patients often can’t afford more expensive treatments of tooth restoration as an alternative, and also can’t afford dentures after losing a tooth, either.”
Since graduating in 2018, Mary has kept her connection with JCU, providing information sessions for the university’s Canadian graduates on what to expect when they come home to work as dentists.