No nice teeth, no heart transplant

Dental care, I learned that it was directly connected with the heart… I didn’t know beforelaunches Bernard Noël.

It’s because his heart hasn’t been working well since the holidays. He expects to receive a brand new one at any time. But for the surgeons to operate on him, he must have impeccable oral health in order to avoid complications.

Except that this care is not reimbursed by the RAMQ. Patients have to dip into their pockets. Bernard Noël admits, dental cleanings and exams have not been a priority during the pandemic. As a result, there was a lot of work to do.

Bernard Noël lives in Gaspé. He has been awaiting a heart transplant since December. He needed extensive and costly oral care to access a transplant and avoid the risk of complications.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Pierre-Alexandre Bolduc

I don’t have the invoice yet, but it will surely represent a couple of thousandsighs the Gaspésien who must also pay for a hotel room in Quebec to receive his treatments at the IUCPQ. In a hospital, you expect that all the care you will receive here will be covered.

Hit a wall

Dr. Michelle Bourassa directs the dental clinic at theIUCPQ. She analyzes patients’ teeth before their heart surgery.

Dr. Bourassa’s goal is to avoid endomyocarditis: infections caused by microbes that enter through the mouth and can then destroy heart valves.

Surgeons will refuse to treat patients who do not have adequate oral health, argues the dental surgeon. Because the risk of severe complications, up to fatal, is at stake.

Dr. Michelle Bourassa is the head of the dental medicine and surgery department at the Institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec (IUCPQ).

Dr. Michelle Bourassa is the head of the dental medicine and surgery department at the Institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec (IUCPQ).

Photo: Radio-Canada / Pierre-Alexandre Bolduc

She asks the government to financially help patients who do not have insurance to avoid the cancellation or postponement of their surgery due to lack of financial means.

« The patient arrives… hits a wall, receives a blow from a club and must think about and revise his budget. This is an important issue for patients. »

A quote from Dr. Michelle Bourassa, Head of the Department of Medicine and Dental Surgery at the IUCPQ

The Order calls for changes

It is quite revolting! This is unacceptablelaunches the president of the Order of Dentists of Quebec, Dr. Liliane Malczewski.

The College doesn’t know the exact number of patients who need to put off surgeries, transplants or chemotherapy treatments, as each institution keeps their records, but Dr. Malczewski believes there are probably hundreds of patients across the province who are affected by dental care costs that are too high for them.

We are asking for coverage for this care. We don’t want catastrophic situations where a patient puts off life-saving surgery because they can’t afford dental care that is medically required and necessary.

Dr. Liliane Malczewski is the president of the Order of Dentists of Quebec.

Dr. Liliane Malczewski is the president of the Order of Dentists of Quebec.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Pierre-Alexandre Bolduc

Dr. Malczewski maintains that dentists provide free care in some cases. Charities also help patients. But she believes the mouth is part of the human body, and like other care in Quebec, medically necessary oral care should be covered.

From money discrimination

It often puts us in very, very difficult situations.blows Dr. Matthieu Schmittbuhl.

The doctor is the head of the Department of Stomatology at the CHUM and full professor at the Faculty of Dentistry of the University of Montreal. He says that approximately 200 patients a year at the CHUM have financial worries and must be helped to pay for their dental care in order to then have access to their treatments.

« Whether we have the means or not, we should have access to this care! »

A quote from Dr Matthieu Schmittbuhl, Head of the Department of Stomatology at the CHUM

Oncology patients are already faced with very serious cancer situations and often very heavy treatments.

A lady is receiving chemotherapy treatment in the hospital.

Patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments must also have impeccable oral health to avoid complications.

Photo : Radio-Canada

Doctor Schmittbuhl explains that oncology patients who need chemotherapy often need a dental check-up before starting their treatment to avoid possible infectious foci of dental origin. The mouth is the part of the human body that contains the most bacteria.

We are really in essential care which can then compromise treatment and the recovery of a patient. Do not forget it!

An opening of the government

The Ministry of Health and Social Services maintains that the Quebec health system provides dental care to people with serious health problems who need radiation treatment for head and neck cancers. Children also have access to publicly funded dental treatment.

The government claims that steps are underway to expand the current program to promote equitable access to dental care for people in vulnerable situations, whose dental treatment is medically required to increase their chances of recovery.

Catching the ball. Québec solidaire co-spokesperson Gabriel-Nadeau Dubois criticized the “negligence” of the CAQ and the Liberals in this matter.

“The mouth is part of the body. Dental care should be covered by RAMQ, we’ve been saying it for a long time,” he tweeted on Monday.

In Ottawa, the revelations of Radio-Canada also reacted to Alexandre Boulerice, deputy leader of the NDP.

Further proof, if necessary, of the need for the dental care program that the federal government is being forced to set up, he wrote on his Twitter account. Earlier this month, New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh threatened to withdraw his support for Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government if the latter does not introduce dental coverage legislation this year.

With the collaboration of Pascal Poinlane and Raphael Beaumont-Drouin

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