Children's Oral Health Initiative
“Our goal is to improve children’s oral health, and therefore their overall health and well being.”
Lindsey Harik, RDH
Tribal Dental Hygienist
Message from your Program Staff
"Children ages 0-7 have access to preventive oral health care and activities while living on reserve"
The Children’s Oral Health Initiative (COHI) is a government funded service-based program designed to ensure First Nations and eligible Inuit children ages 0-7 have access to preventive oral health care and activities while living on reserve. At Four Arrows Regional Health Authority, we provide care for the Island Lake Community. COHI was designed based on evidence that indicates:
- Tooth decay is an infectious disease;
- Tooth decay is entirely preventable;
- Oral health impacts total body wellness;
- Early prevention and education are crucial to good oral health and less disease.
Our goal is to improve children’s oral health, and therefore their overall health and wellbeing. We teach parents, caregivers, pregnant women, and children about good oral hygiene habits that include both daily self-care and care provided by oral health professionals. It begins in infancy and is a routine part of a healthy lifestyle for all ages and families.
A dental hygienist and a COHI aide work together to deliver the program services in the communities. The COHI aide is a trained community member who lives on reserve – hired by the community to support the dental professional and provide some COHI services independently. The importance of oral health is increased in the communities when the dental hygienist is present regularly and is supported by the COHI aide. A strong partnership with the community in this way ensures the success of the COHI program.
- Oral health screenings: record tooth decay, missing or filled teeth. Assess need for sealants and determine if the child needs a referral for dental treatment.
- Fluoride varnish applications (minimum of 2 per year): prevents tooth decay and strengthens tooth enamel.
- Applying pit and fissure sealants: thin white plastic coatings to help prevent tooth decay on molar teeth.
These services do not require local anesthetic (freezing) and are delivered at nursing stations, health centers, schools, Aboriginal Head Start program facilities, daycare centers, and clients’ homes by the dental hygienist and COHI aide.
COHI ensures families receive excellent resources – including DVDs, visual aids, flip charts, parent kits, and of course toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss.