07/30/2013 04:42 EDT | Updated 09/29/2013 05:12 EDT

Nova Scotia government expands annual dental surgeries for children

HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government says an expansion at a Halifax hospital will allow about 600 more children to receive dental surgeries annually starting next year.

The Department of Health and Wellness says it will add staff and equipment to the pediatric dentistry department at the IWK Health Centre.

The government says the hospital does about 700 specialized surgeries each year now.

Government spokesman Andrew Preeper says the funding for the program is still being worked out, but the Health Department expects about $400,000 in annual operating costs.

The department also announced Tuesday that it will hire a chief dental officer, who will work with health officials across the province and report to the chief medical officer.

Preeper says the department isn't sure yet how much funding will be set aside for the new position, which begins in January.