There's a reason for more Ontario families to smile, as expanded eligibility for dental coverage has just kicked in for children in low-income families.

A recent boost in minimum wage coupled with a new way of calculating eligibility announced in April, means more kids now qualify for the Healthy Smiles Ontario program.

Dr. Maria van Harten, president of the Ontario Association of Public Health Dentistry, welcomes the changes.

"The threshold used to be $20,000 household annual family income...That has been increased to take into account the number of children in a household."

Coverage may be provided where the household income is just over $21,000 a year for families with one child, $23,000 plus for families with two kids and more than $24,000 for those with three kids.

"This system gives families that have more children - recognizing that they have more challenges - gives them a bit more coverage," van Harten says.

The increase is part of a series of reforms that began in the spring with the introduction of a sliding scale of incomes rather than a set rate and will continue through 2015 with the introduction of more streamlined administrative services.

The program covers the cost of things like routine checkups, fillings and root canals, but it doesn't pay for things like cosmetic dentistry and braces.

But van Harten adds "There are still going to be families caught between a rock and a hard place. There are families with dental insurance, where it's not terribly robust. It's a step in the right direction and we're glad to see it."

Information can be obtained through the Ministry of Health or your local health unit.