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Your Support Helps Make A Healthy Smile, Happy Child

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They say a great smile is the key to success but a healthy grin is more important than many might realize — especially when it comes to children. That’s why the collaborative, multi-agency initiative dubbed Healthy Smile Healthy Child (HSHC) is so important. According to facilitator Dr. Bob Schroth, researcher at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba (owned and operated by the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba) and Associate Professor College of Dentistry, University of Manitoba, prevention of early childhood tooth decay is imperative. “The initiative aids at moving from a traditional health educator paradigm toward more of a community development approach with health promotion,” Schroth explains. “Our initiative focuses on preventing early childhood tooth decay among children under six years of age and promoting good early childhood oral health.”

Because of your support, a program was started in 2000 in response to a growing wait list for dental surgery in Manitoba with the following goals; gain community acceptance of the importance of early childhood oral health, build on existing programs for young children, increase parental and existing service provider knowledge, and encourage service providers to incorporate prevention activities into their practice. In 2006, the initiative became province wide. “Some of the benefits of the program include capacity building of parents and service providers in Manitoba. Through the information provided by our initiative, these individuals can be given oral health education on how to reduce children’s risk for early childhood tooth decay.”

The program has become an integral part of the community and without it there would likely be less promotion of children’s oral health and fewer health providers outside of the dental field who advocate and promote good oral health and first dental visits. “This initiative has helped to standardize and develop key messages about oral health that have helped to address dental is information,” he adds.

The HSHC initiative includes research and evaluation and the team has successfully reported on the prevalence of early childhood tooth decay and risk factors in different Manitoba communities.  The results have been nothing short of successful as the community development approach to addressing the problem of tooth decay has led to increased parental awareness of oral health, improved oral hygiene routines, earlier first dental visits, and fewer children developing severe tooth decay.

Learn more about the great research happening because of your support here.