More than one-third of Canadians reported not seeing a dentist in the past year, according to a new Statistics Canada report.

Based on data from the 2022 Canadian Community Health Survey, it also found that roughly the same number of respondents, or 35 per cent, lacked dental insurance coverage while nearly one quarter avoided dental care due to costs.

The findings come as the federal government works to create a new national dental insurance plan that will cover up to nine million people with family incomes of less than $90,000. A key demand from the NDP in its supply-and-confidence agreement with the governing Liberals, $13 billion is earmarked for the plan over the next five years, with coverage expected to begin by the end of 2023.

Just 55 per cent of Canadians have private dental insurance through an employer, university or other means, according to the Statistics Canada data, while four per cent currently have coverage through a public government-paid plan. Of those with insurance, 76 per cent saw a dental professional in the past 12 months, compared with 51 per cent of people without coverage.

For those without coverage, 40 per cent said they avoided dental care due to the cost. Nearly half of Canadians in the lowest income bracket reported seeing a dentist in the past year, compared with almost three quarter of those in the highest bracket.

The Canadian Dental Association suggests that most people get a dental exam every six months.

Women were more likely to report receiving dental care than men over the past 12 months, at 68 versus 62 per cent. Younger Canadians aged 12 to 17 were also more likely to visit a dental professional (79 per cent) than people 65 years and up (60 per cent). Those aged 65 years and older were half as likely (33 per cent) to have dental insurance than those aged 35 to 49 (69 per cent). 

A lower proportion of people in Quebec (62 per cent), New Brunswick (62 per cent), Saskatchewan (60 per cent) and Newfoundland and Labrador (55 per cent) reported seeing a dental professional compared with other provinces. Dental insurance was also more prevalent in urban areas and outside of Quebec.

The survey also noted costs were reported as being more of a barrier to racialized and non-heterosexual people.

Conducted from Feb to Dec. 2022, the Canadian Community Health Survey covers Canadians in provinces aged 12 and older. Statistics Canada says it provides "the most recent insights into Canadians' access and use of dental care services."