ACFF awards grants to boost pediatric preventive dentistry efforts

The Canada-United States chapter of the Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future awarded three grants to fund efforts in preventive dentistry.

The Canada-United States Chapter of the Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future (ACFF) has awarded three interprofessional grants totaling $50,000 to fund projects that will be carried out in 2017 and have a positive impact on dental caries, an early form of tooth decay which is reversible, for children aged 0-6.

The inaugural grant program aims to bring together groups outside of dentistry, such as pediatrics and primary care, to help underserved communities. Made possible through funding from Colgate-Palmolive, the grants focus on specific populations including communities with high caries needs, populations living in remote areas with limited access to dental care, disadvantaged communities such as those with low incomes and other populations with specialized health care needs.

“The programs funded through this grant are outstanding examples of the interprofessional collaboration being implemented to address oral health,” said Alyssa Hayes, BDent, MSc, FRCD(C), an assistant professor at the University of Saskatchewan College of Dentistry and Canada-US ACFF Chapter Co-Chair. “Only by working together can we improve the oral health of young children.”

About the 2016 Winners

  • Promoting Oral Health in Primary Care: Closing the Dental Referral Loop (Children’s Mercy Kansas City, Kansas City, Mo.)—This program aims to improve the process of dental referrals for children at highest risk. By expanding the role of a dedicated staff member who will help to shepherd identified children through the referral process and coordinate care between patients and providers. Ultimately, by February 2018, the organizers believe that 80% of children at absolute high risk for caries according to the AAP Oral Health Risk Assessment Tool will have a formal dental referral completed.
  • An Ontario Primary Health Care System to Support a Cavity-free Future (Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto and Niagara Region, Public Health, Toronto)—Through a participatory action research approach, this project aims to build readiness across dentistry, medicine, public health and government to make fluoride varnish (FV) routine primary care practice in Ontario. The project will engage key policy and practice leaders to understand their perspectives on the challenges of adopting FV in primary care. In collaboration with these stakeholders, the project will also develop the strategy that will be necessary to making FV application routing primary care practice in Ontario.
  • Online Parenting Forums: Drawing Implications for Caries Prevention from Parents’ Perspectives of Childhood Decay and Dental Expertise (University of Calgary) – A research project that seeks to better understand online parenting forums in relation to early childhood caries (ECC). In-person sessions with parents recruited from online forums will focus on how parents use forums, their perceptions of trust and expertise online, and what supportive role health professionals might play on parenting forums. Findings from these sessions will then better inform the role of public health professionals in enhancing ECC prevention efforts.

“Disparities in dental caries experience and access to care exist all across North America,” said Margherita Fontana, DDS, PhD, Professor, University of Michigan School of Dentistry and Canada-US ACFF Chapter Co-Chair. “We believe these programs will have a significant short and long-term impact in our understanding of how to reduce these disparities.”

For those interested in finding resources on cavity prevention, more information can be found at www.AllianceforaCavityFreeFuture.org. Specific information about the Canada-US Chapter can be obtained by contacting Co-Chair Alyssa Hayes via email (alyssa.hayes@usask.ca) or phone (306-966-1407).

Worldwide, 60–90% of school children and nearly 100% of adults have tooth decay.(1) The impact of this disease has a profound impact on children in North America. In Canada, an estimated 2.26 million school days are missed each year due to dental related illness.(2) In the United States, a child is five times more likely to seek emergency room treatment for dental problems than for asthma, often because they can’t see a dentist, are uninsured or can’t afford routine dental care.(3)

The Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future (ACFF) is a worldwide group of experts who have joined together to promote integrated clinical and public health action in order to stop caries initiation and progression in order to move towards a Cavity-Free Future for all age groups. Overall, the group believes that global collaborative action is needed to challenge global leaders and other regional and local stakeholders to learn the importance of caries as a disease continuum and to participate in action toward the delivery of comprehensive caries prevention and management that can positively influence the continuing problem of caries. By working together on a global, regional and local level, the ACFF challenges these stakeholders to stop caries NOW for the opportunity to have a Cavity-Free Future.

The ACFF was built in collaboration with a worldwide panel of experts in dentistry and public health. Given the goal of driving global collaborative action, the ACFF aims also to partner with global leaders and other stakeholders on a regional and local level — including country and community leaders, health and dental health professionals, public policy and education communities, and the public.

References
1. World Health Organization, Report on Oral Health, 2003. Available at: http://www.who.int/oral_health/media/en/orh_report03_en.pdf. Accessed November 17, 2016.
2. National Children’s Oral Health Foundation. Facts about decay. Available at: http://www.ncohf.org/resources/tooth-decay-facts. Accessed November 17, 2016.
3. National Maternal and Child Oral Health Policy Center. Key Oral Health Messages. Available at: http://nmcohpc.net/2011/key-oral-health-messages. Accessed November 17, 2016.


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