The community of Wabush has been without a dental practice for two years. Recently, there were unconfirmed reports of two dentists from Quebec exploring the possibility of moving to Labrador West to meet the demand for dental services.
There has been some concern as to where residents can go for emergency dental procedures. The only other practice — located in Labrador City — is booked up with regular appointments.
Presently, that clinic has two dentists to provide service to the entire population — approximately 10,000 in the twin towns.
Health authority covers some areas
Allan Bock is the regional director of communications for Labrador-Grenfell Health. He says the health authority is responsible for the provision of dental services in some parts of the region.
“In northern Newfoundland and southern Labrador, preventive/corrective dental care is provided by dental professionals employed by the health authority,” he said, noting this is attributed to the historic arrangement that has been in place for several years.
“In Labrador West, dental services are provided by fee-for-service dentists.”
Bock added Capt. William Jackman Memorial Hospital also receives visits from an orthodontist who provides a fee-for-service to clients.
In the past there was also an ear, nose and throat specialist who travelled to the area and handled referrals from dentists for such procedures as wisdom tooth removal surgery in the operating room at the local hospital. Patients were reimbursed from their own health insurance plans if they paid up front.
Many residents in the towns of Labrador City and Wabush are covered under their work dental plans. However, not every resident or their dependents are covered, leaving a gap.
Dr. Ed Williams is the dental director for Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Aurora contacted him to find out more on the status of recruitment/advocacy efforts regarding additional dental practices and/or services for Labrador West in the future.
Calls were not returned as of deadline.