Pathways to Health Equity for Aboriginal Peoples
Oral health priority area

The most common oral conditions range from tooth decay, gum disease and injuries to chronic pain.Footnote 1

More than 85% of Inuit children aged 3 to 5 have tooth decay.Footnote 2

First Nations youth living on-reserve require more restorative (57% vs. 13%) and orthodontic treatment (14% vs. 6%) than youth in the general Canadian population.Footnote 3

Why is oral health a priority for Pathways?

  • Oral health is an important part of a person's overall health and well-being.
  • Good oral health allows people to speak, eat, and socialize without pain, discomfort or embarrassment.
  • Oral health disparities in First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities are well documented.
  • Many oral health conditions are preventable.
  • There are effective and affordable solutions, such as good oral hygiene habits and healthy dietary practices, but barriers to scale-up of these approaches need to be understood and overcome.

How will Pathways improve oral health?

Pathways will fund research to fill the gap between knowledge and action:

  • It will study the scale-up of promising interventions.
  • It will support research-community partnerships to generate evidence
  • on which interventions work, for whom, and under which conditions.

CIHR-funded oral health research

CIHR has a strong history of supporting oral health research. Here are two examples of previously-funded projects:

Protecting Young Teeth

Dr. Herenia Lawrence of the University of Toronto is leading a community-based study in Ontario and Manitoba that combines multiple strategies to prevent tooth decay in very young children.

Starting a Conversation about Oral Health

Dr. Debbie H. Martin at Dalhousie University is working with Inuit youth and their caregivers to discuss oral health issues in their communities.


Footnote 1

Milot M, Aubin JE. Seed Grant: Disparities in Oral Health. 2011 [cited 2013 Jul 3]. Available from: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis Web site.


Footnote 2

Health Canada, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, Nunatsiavut Government, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. Inuit Oral Health Survey Report 2008-2009. (2011).


Footnote 3

The First Nations Information Governance Centre, First Nations Regional Health Survey (RHS) Phase 2 (2008/10) National Report on Adults, Youth and Children Living in First Nations Communities. (Ottawa: The First Nations Information Governance Centre, June 2012), 299, 399


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