03/18/2013 05:25 EDT | Updated 05/18/2013 05:12 EDT

Facial deformities targeted with $700,000 pledge from B.C.

The B.C government will be providing $700,000 toward surgeries and other treatments for people with dental and facial deformities.

Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid says the money is being provided as part of a service agreement with the BC Dental Association to help work through a backlog of 65 patients who are awaiting dental or facial reconstructions.

Many of them have lived with the deformities since they were children because surgery can't always be done until their bones have finished growing, at around the age of 20. Other patients developed dental-facial deformities after treatment for face or neck cancers.

MacDiarmid says the surgeries treatments will not only give the patients new smiles, but also the ability to chew and speak properly.

Under the program, the BC Dental Association will work with the BC Cancer Agency, Children's Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital to identify and treat patients.

Between 30 and 40 new patients with complex prosthodontic needs are identified in B.C. each year. About 10 of those patients have the genetic condition called ectodermal dysplasia, which typically requires some degree of dental or facial reconstruction.