113,000 senior citizens used Chas or Pioneer Generation card for dental care in 2015

Chas gives those from the Pioneer Generation and low- to middle-income Singaporeans subsidies at more than 1,500 participating general practitioners and dentists.
Chas gives those from the Pioneer Generation and low- to middle-income Singaporeans subsidies at more than 1,500 participating general practitioners and dentists. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Some 113,000 Singaporeans aged 65 years and above have used their Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) or Pioneer Generation card for dental care last year, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Friday.

This is more than 10 times the number of Chas dental beneficiaries belonging in the same age group in 2012 when Chas was first introduced.

Chas gives those from the Pioneer Generation and low- to middle-income Singaporeans subsidies at more than 1,500 participating general practitioners and dentists. The Pioneer Generation card provides subsidies for those aged 65 and above in 2014 at Chas clinics.

To date, the number of participating private dental clinics has grown to about 650 island-wide.

Speaking at the International Dental Exhibition and Meetingheld at Suntec Singapore, Mr Gan emphasised the importance of ensuring that Singapore's dentists are trained to deal with the needs of an ageing population.

Measures include the addition of geriatric dentistry at the National University of Singapore's school of dentistry.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has also sponsored seven candidates for its geriatric and special needs dentistry scholarships. Four have since returned to serve the community.

Noting that more needs to be done for the dental care of patients who are less mobile, Mr Gan said MOH is exploring the feasibility of providing in-house dental services to these patients through portable dental units.

"This is so that simple dental procedures can be performed without the need to shift the patient from their nursing home to the dental operatory, which can be quite frightening," said Mr Gan.