Tooth decay is the most common, but preventable, childhood chronic disease both in Canada and around the world. Oral diseases frequently begin in the preschool years which is why it is so important to establish good oral hygiene behaviours in those early years.
In March 2022, the federal government announced plans to enhance access to dental care for Canadian families with annual household incomes of less than $90,000.
Phase one of the government’s plans to enhance access to dental care begins with children under 12-years-old was announced in September, 2022, and takes the form of the Canada Dental Benefit (CDB).
Please view the frequently asked questions for further details, and reference the infographic for a quick overview of the interim CDB.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Canada Dental Benefit (CDB) is an interim measure to provide direct, up-front, tax-free payments to offset out-of-pocket dental care expenses for Canadian children under age 12 in households with annual incomes of less than $90,000.
The Canada Dental Benefit would provide payments up to $650 per child per year for families with an adjusted net income of under $90,000 per year who are without access to private dental coverage and who incur out-of-pocket expenses for dental care services.
- $650 would be provided for each eligible child if the family’s adjusted net income is under $70,000.
- $390 would be provided for each eligible child if the family’s adjusted net income is between $70,000 and $79,999.
- $260 would be provided for each eligible child if the family’s adjusted net income is between $80,000 and $89,999.
Parents or guardians of eligible children must apply to receive the CDB through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Applicants must attest that:
- their child does not have access to private dental care coverage;
- they will have out-of-pocket dental care expenses for which they will use the Benefit; and
- they understand they will need to provide documentation to verify out of pocket expenses occurred (e.g. show receipts), if required.
Note that in order to apply for the CDB, parents or guardians must be up-to-date on their income tax filings, and must currently be in receipt of the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for the child on whose behalf they are applying.
Applications are not yet available. Please visit the CRA website for the latest details on how and when to apply.
Families with children are eligible to apply for the CDB if they have incurred, or plan to incur, out-of-pocket expenses for dental care services starting October 1, 2022 and do not have access to employer-sponsored dental coverage.
No. Children with access to employer-provided dental coverage through their parents’ or guardians’ employers are not eligible for the CDB.
Many provincial and territorial governments already provide some sort of dental care programming for children under age 12. In some provinces, this is accessible to all children (Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Yukon) and in others this is limited to those below a certain income level or those receiving social assistance. For more information, please contact your Provincial or Territorial Dental Association. The federal government also provides the Non-Insured Health Benefits program to eligible First Nations and Inuit children.
However, these programs may not cover all of the dental services required by your child, or you may still end up incurring out-of-pocket costs for your child’s treatment. If you have coverage through one of these programs but have incurred, or will be incurring, out-of-pocket costs for your child’s dental treatment, you are able to apply for the CDB.
Children are eligible to receive one CDB payment for dental services received in each of two eligibility periods:
- October 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023; and
- July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024.
The government has indicated it will use adjusted net family income, the same as is used for the Canada Child Benefit.
For the first eligibility period, income will be determined as of December 1, 2022 regardless of when you apply.
For the second eligibility period, income will be determined as of July 1, 2023 regardless of when you apply.
Note that, in order to apply, you will be required to be up to date in your income tax filings with CRA.
No. Parents or guardians can apply for the CDB in advance of their child’s dental appointment. The application form will ask for information about when the upcoming appointment is scheduled, and what dental care provider the child will be seeing. This way they will already have the additional funds on hand and will not need to wait for the costs to be reimbursement.
As is standard practice, your child’s dentist should provide you with documentation outlining the dental services your child receives at their appointment, as well as a receipt for your payment. While these do not need to be submitted proactively to the federal government, you must keep these on hand, as they may reach out in select cases for verification purposes.
The federal government has indicated that so long as parents or guardians are able to demonstrate that they had out-of-pocket expenses for dental services for the eligible child receiving the CDB, they will not be required to make any repayments to the federal government, even if the out-of-pocket costs were less than $650.
While the individual dental care needs of children can range considerably based on their oral health conditions and other factors, $650 should be sufficient to cover basic dental care treatment for children under 12. For example, the current average cost of an annual dental examination for an existing patient in this age group ranges from $113 to $259 depending on the province or territory. Overall, roughly 95% of appointments for children in this age group cost less than $650.
If you are facing more than $650 in out-of-pocket expenses for dental care services during the first eligibility period (October 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023), you may be eligible to apply for a second CDB payment during the second eligibility period (July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024) even if you do not incur further out-of-pocket costs for dental care services.
If you did not apply for the CDB during the first eligibility period (July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024) and you are facing more than $650 in out-of-pocket expenses for dental care services during the second eligibility period (July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024), you may be eligible to apply for two CDB payments during that eligibility period.
The Canadian Dental Association recommends the assessment of infants, by a dentist, within six months of the eruption of the first tooth or by one year of age. Visiting the dentist regularly will help children get started on a pathway to good oral health for a lifetime.
Most general dentists in Canada see patients under age 12. Most provincial and territorial dental associations provide tools on their websites to help you find a dentist near you.
As well, there are specialist pediatric dentists who have additional expertise in treating children, particularly those with complex needs.
The next phase of the federal government’s approach to dental care will focus on children under age 18, seniors, and persons with disabilities. This will then be expanded to cover all adults by 2025. No further details about future phases have been made available.
Just like other diseases, prevention, early detection and treatment of oral diseases is important to stop any negative effects on the rest of your body.
One of the best ways to protect your mouth is by going to the dentist for regular check-ups and dental cleanings.
Your dentist can help keep your teeth and mouth healthy. Regular check-ups also allow your dentist to make sure that you don’t have dental problems, remove any unhealthy buildup and reduce your risk of dental decay or gum disease.
With a healthy mouth you can eat, speak and smile in comfort, which helps you feel physically, socially and mentally well. A healthy mouth helps you enjoy life. Learn more about oral health, risk factors, how to establish a good oral health routine at home, and more.
- Government of Canada FAQs: Canada Dental Benefit What You Need to Know
- CDA Responds to Federal Dental Care Announcement
- Importance of Maintaining Good Oral Health for Children
Last updated: November 29, 2022