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