Media Releases

U of T researchers collaborate internationally to reduce one of the most common chronic childhood diseases

March 10, 2011

TORONTO, ON — The Cana­di­an Insti­tutes of Health Research will donate $1.2 mil­lion towards new research aimed at reduc­ing child­hood tooth decay among the First Nations com­mu­ni­ty.

The research will exam­ine a new approach to den­tal care that employs four con­cur­rent ther­a­pies to peo­ple liv­ing with­in First Nations com­mu­ni­ties. Its goal is to reduce the marked ear­ly child­hood caries dis­par­i­ties that exist between First Nations and non-First Nations chil­dren in Cana­da.

The new ther­a­py will com­mence this spring in sev­er­al com­mu­ni­ties across Ontario and Man­i­to­ba. Cana­di­an results are to be com­pared with results accu­mu­lat­ed by researchers work­ing in Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

Prin­ci­pal inves­ti­ga­tor, Dr. Here­nia Lawrence from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, says that 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,” she says. “Our 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 and that can be read­i­ly applied to oth­er pop­u­la­tions with high lev­els of ear­ly child­hood caries.”

Four oth­er Cana­di­an Uni­ver­si­ties will join the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to for this inves­ti­ga­tion includ­ing the North­ern Ontario School of Med­i­cine (Lau­rent­ian Uni­ver­si­ty), the Uni­ver­si­ty of Man­i­to­ba, 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, Dr. Sab­ri­na Per­essi­ni also from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to says, “A caregiver’s pos­i­tive per­cep­tions sur­round­ing the impor­tance of the pri­ma­ry den­ti­tion are vital to mak­ing den­tal­ly healthy infant rear­ing choic­es.  This inter­ven­tion is impor­tant because it will help to pro­mote pos­i­tive mes­sages and pro­vide den­tal infor­ma­tion dur­ing preg­nan­cy, a time when car­ing for a child’s teeth is not usu­al­ly con­sid­ered.  Care­givers will there­fore have a greater oppor­tu­ni­ty to devel­op den­tal­ly healthy choic­es once their child is born.”



For more infor­ma­tion, please con­tact:

Here­nia P. Lawrence, DDS, MSc, PhD
Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor
Den­tal Pub­lic Health
Depart­ment of Bio­log­i­cal and Diag­nos­tic Sci­ences
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Tel: (416) 979‑4908 ext. 4492

Michael Kennedy
Media Rela­tions Assis­tant