Although the tooth decay rate has improved in Canada in the last 40 years, one-quarter of children are still affected by tooth decay and it is two to three times worse for children within vulnerable populations. A recent report from the Canadian Institute of Health Information revealed that the rate of dental surgery to treat severe Early Childhood Caries in Canada is 12.5/1000 children aged 1 to 5. Tooth decay is a chronic and infectious disease that is 100% preventable.
Daniella DeMaré and Lisette Dufour spoke to Dr. Suham Alexander about the “Lift the Lip” videos which were produced by the Healthy Smile Happy Child (HSHC) initiative. HSHC is an intersectoral, collaborative partnership that takes an upstream community development approach to engage communities in Early Childhood Caries (ECC) prevention strategies and promotion of early childhood oral health. Some of the benefits of the program include capacity building of parents and service providers. Through the information HSHC provides individuals can be given oral health education on how to reduce children’s risk for early childhood tooth decay.
Healthy Smile Happy Child (HSHC) partnered with Office of the Chief Dental Officer (OCDO) and Healthy Start for Mom & Me, a Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program in Winnipeg, to produce culturally appropriate videos incorporating key oral health messages for vulnerable children 0-6 years old and their families. The video was funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada, with the collaboration and technical expertise of OCDO and produced by HSHC in English, French, Cree, Ojibwe and Inuktitut.
- The “Lift the Lip” practice is a simple assessment of children’s teeth to check for early signs of tooth decay
- It is recognized worldwide as an effective means to increase early intervention to prevent more advanced oral caries and disease.
- The practice promotes a family focus on oral health and preventative care
The Public Health Agency of Canada has disseminated the videos to all (134) Aboriginal Head Start Urban and Northern Communities, and to all the sites of Community Action Program Children (415) & Canadian Prenatal Nutrition Program (276 sites) across Canada. Additionally, HSHC partners in the Regional Health Authorities in Manitoba and everywhere in Canada are encouraged to play the video in waiting rooms and educational settings.
It is hoped that the video will be widely used to help parents and caregivers to care for their babies’ teeth right from the start.
- Lift the Lip with Healthy Smile Happy Child: Preventing Early Childhood Caries
- Healthy Smile Happy Child Resources
Full Interview (7.56″)