Healthy Smile Happy Child is a well-established partnership that takes an upstream community development approach to engage communities in Early Childhood Caries (ECC) prevention strategies and promotion of early childhood oral health.
Early childhood tooth decay is the most common chronic disease affecting children younger than six years old in Canada. Tooth decay can cause children pain and infection and affect their quality of life and general health. It may also lead to increased risk for dental caries in primary and permanent teeth.
Families can help to reduce the risk of early childhood tooth decay in their own children by brushing children’s teeth 2 times every day, making healthy food choices and starting to take their children to the dentist before they are 12 months old.
Another way families can take care of children’s teeth is by checking them at least once a month for signs of decay. This practice is called “Lift the Lip” and is recognized worldwide as an effective means to increase early intervention to prevent more advanced oral caries and disease. The screening practice promotes a family focus on oral health and preventative care.
To show families how to perform the “Lift the Lip” assessment Healthy Smile Happy Child has partnered with Healthy Start for Mom & Me, a Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program in Winnipeg, to produce a video, “Lift the Lip with Healthy Smile Happy Child: Preventing Early Childhood Caries”.
The video incorporates key oral health messages for vulnerable children 0-6 years old and their families. Funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada, and with the collaboration and technical expertise of the Office of the Chief Dental Officer, the video was produced in English, French, Cree, Ojibwe and Inuktitut.
All versions of the video are hosted on the Healthy Smile Happy Child webpage:
They are also found at the Healthy Smile Happy Child YouTube channel:
It is hoped that the video will be widely used to help parents and caregivers to care for their babies’ teeth right from the start.
Prairie Mountain Health is a partner of Healthy Smile Happy Child (HSHC) to raise awareness of how to prevent early childhood tooth decay. PMH Public Health and Health Promotion regularly participate in the Intersectoral Dental Health Promotion Group facilitated by HSHC to stay up to date on the latest resources and oral health promotion opportunities. PMH also supports dental health screening and/or education for preschoolers at annual wellness fairs throughout the region. For more information about preventing early childhood tooth decay, contact your local Public Health Nurse, Healthy Baby Program Facilitator, or Health Promotion staff.