Canadian Oral Health Survey (COHS)

Detailed information for November 2023 to March 2024 (Cycle 1)





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This survey gathers information on Canadians' oral health, including their ability to pay, challenges and experiences with the oral health care services, and care needs. Additionally, the survey collects information on knowledge of publicly funded oral health programs and access to dental care expenses and insurance coverage to better understand the state of oral health.


Statistics Canada and Health Canada have partnered to conduct the Canadian Oral Health Survey (COHS) with the shared goal of understanding the oral health of Canadians. The COHS is gathering information related to oral health, including individuals' ability to pay for oral health care, experiences with the oral health care system, challenges finding oral health services, and care needs.

The following are some of the topics the COHS includes:

- Awareness and intentions of the newly formed Canadian Dental Care Plan
- Oral health status
- Presence of natural teeth and/or dental prosthesis
- On-going and/or untreated mouth problems or pain
- Oral health behaviours (e.g., brushing of teeth, flossing)
- Visits to an oral health professional
- Oral health care
- Dental care and related costs
- Dental care treatment and/or avoidance
- Risk factors and related conditions
- Health of your mouth and general health status
- Oral health insurance (e.g., public or private insurance coverage of dental care expenses)

All of this valuable information will create national baseline data on various aspects of oral health care. In addition, information from this survey will be used to inform policies and monitor changes in the oral health of Canadians over time.

Reference period: 2022-2024

Collection period: November through March


  • Children and youth
  • Health
  • Lifestyle and social conditions

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population for COHS consists of Canadian households with adults 18 years of age and older, living in the 10 provinces.

The observed population excludes: persons living on reserves and other Indigenous settlements in the provinces; persons living in the three territories; the institutionalized population and members of the Canadian Forces living on a base.

Instrument design

The content of this survey was developed in partnership with Health Canada.

Prior to finalizing the questionnaire, one-on-one qualitative test interviews were conducted in both official languages. The objective of these interviews was to test the questionnaire's content, in particular the wording of instructions, questions and help text, and the flow of questions. As a result of this testing, improvements were made to the questionnaire. Qualitative testing was done with guidance and input from Statistics Canada's Questionnaire Design Resource Centre (QDRC).


This is a sample survey with a stratified two-stage sample and cross-sectional design.

At the first stage, the sample is selected from a stratified list frame of dwellings; at the second stage the sampling unit is adult. The selected adult will provide information for themselves, their households, and all persons under the age of 18 in the household (children). As some information will be provided for the entire household and all the children in the household, the design for those units could be considered as one-stage.

Sampling unit
The COHS uses a stratified two-stage design. The sampling unit for the first stage is the dwelling, and the sampling unit for the second stage is the adult.

Stratification method
The dwelling frame was stratified by province, household income, and household composition (presence or absence of seniors). A simple random sample of sampling units was selected independently within each stratum.

Sampling and sub-sampling
The COHS sample has a two-stage design. First, dwellings will be randomly selected across Canada. Next, within each selected household, one individual aged 18 and over will be selected based on specific instructions within the letter they receive (or provided by the interviewer if they respond by phone). The instructions will use the age of household members to determine who is selected and will vary from one household to another. For some households, the oldest member is selected, others the second oldest, or the youngest, etc. These letters are randomly assigned to the selected dwellings ensuring that the selected individual from within the dwelling is random.

The primary sample of 45,000 dwellings is allocated provincially to yield comparable number of respondents in each province. Within each province, extra sample is allocated to strata more likely to contain persons eligible to enroll in Canadian Dental Care Plan.

The supplementary sample of 10,000 dwellings is allocated evenly to ten provinces to the strata where we expect to reach seniors likely to enroll in the Canadian Dental Care Plan.

The total sample size sent to data collection is 55,000.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2023-11-27 to 2024-03-13

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Data are collected using an electronic questionnaire and computer assisted telephone interview software (CATI).

The first contact with respondents is a letter sent through the mail. On the letter there is a code which gave access to the online questionnaire. Statistics Canada will contact invited participants by email or mail to follow up if the respondent's completed questionnaire is not received. The electronic questionnaire takes on average 25 minutes to complete.

Proxy reporting is not allowed on COHS. Respondents are offered to complete the interview in either English or French.

Administrative data source(s), data integration, data processing and compilation will be provided upon data release.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

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