The Northwest Territories is planning to outfit three-quarters of its population with two bamboo toothbrushes each.
The territory’s Department of Health and Social Services has issued a request for proposals inviting contractors to supply 58,000 adult-sized and 7,000 youth-sized bamboo toothbrushes.
Department spokesperson Damien Healy told Cabin Radio the territory plans to distribute toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss to residents who need them across the territory.
Healy said the planned order accounts for two toothbrushes per person at an estimated uptake of 75 percent of the NWT’s population. A second order could be placed next year, depending on the need remaining.
At a total of 65,000 toothbrushes, the order significantly outstrips the territory’s population, which was most recently estimated at 44,982.
Healy said the department is looking to purchase bamboo toothbrushes, rather than plastic ones, as they are biodegradable and lead to less environmental waste.
The department is also seeking 3,000 standard children’s toothbrushes, 40,000 85-ml tubes of fluoridated toothpaste, and 40,000 flosser stick packs.
Healy said the department developed its plan to distribute toothbrushes and toothpaste in response to feedback about lack of access to such supplies.
The goods will be distributed via community health centres and public health staff in all 33 NWT communities.
In 2018, the territorial government released an oral health action plan with the goal of reducing tooth decay, tooth loss, and chronic pain among residents.
Healy said the department had made “significant achievement” in all four of that plan’s stated objectives: promoting oral health, establishing systemic supports for improved oral health services, implementing the NWT oral health service delivery model, and providing high-quality, sustainable, and culturally safe care.
Some programs, however, have experienced delays due to Covid-19.
Dental offices across the Northwest Territories have had to make changes due to pandemic restrictions.
Dental services in communities without private dental clinics have been suspended because of the pandemic.