Dental Researchers Tackle a Common and Chronic Childhood Disease

February 24th, 2011 · No Comments · Aboriginal, Dentistry

caries.jpgUniversity of Manitoba dental researchers are working with colleagues from around the world to design a program that will reduce childhood caries among First Nations populations.

The unique program will launch this spring in communities across Ontario and Manitoba and it has been designed to specifically reach pregnant First Nations women. First Nations populations have higher-than-average rates of dental caries – a bacterial disease that results in tooth decay.

The project’s long-term goal is to create a culturally appropriate intervention that reduces dental disease burden and health inequalities among pre-school indigenous children in the participating countries – Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

The Canadian arm of this project has received nearly $1.2 million in funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.  The Canadian team will involve both clinical components, including treatment and fluoride applications, as well as behavioural modification, including anticipatory guidance and motivational interviewing.  Results will be compared with those from the Australian and New Zealand teams.

“Early childhood caries is a significant health problem confronting indigenous communities in all three countries.  We hope that by working in partnership with Aboriginal communities here in Canada we can create an intervention that will reduce the dental treatment needs of young children and motivate mothers to subscribe to better preventative oral health practices,” says Herenia Lawrence, the project’s principal investigator from the University of Toronto.

Four other Canadian Universities will join the University of Manitoba for this investigation including the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (Laurentian University), the University of Toronto, the University College of the North, and the University of Waterloo.  The five-year study is called “Reducing disease burden and health inequalities arising from chronic dental disease among Indigenous children: an early childhood caries intervention.”

Co-investigator Robert Schroth from the University of Manitoba says, “It is exciting to see that this project will also include a cohort of urban Aboriginal mothers and infants.  We know that the prevalence of early childhood caries in some urban populations of Manitoba is as high as those for some northern populations.  Since this project will start during pregnancy, we have a tremendous opportunity to prevent early childhood caries or at least minimize the amount and delay the onset of tooth decay that some children may experience.”

For more information please contact Robert J Schroth, Faculty of Dentistry & Department of Pediatrics & Child Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba at 204-975-7764 (

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