An oral health promotion program for an urban minority population of preschool children


  • Sources of support: B. C. Health Research Foundation Grant #MH34 (92); Community Health Innovation Fund, Vancouver/Richmond Health Board; Sharon Martin Community Health Trust Fund.

Rosamund L. Harrison, Division of Pediatric Dentistry,
University of British Columbia, 2199 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T 1Z3


Abstract  – The objective of this project was to design, implement and evaluate an oral health promotion program for inner-city Vietnamese preschool children in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The project comprised of four general phases: information-gathering, project planning, project implementation, and project evaluation. The information-gathering phase of the project demonstrated extensive tooth decay in young children, bottle use during the day and during sleep-time long past recommended weaning age, and a belief of many parents that primary teeth were not important. Based on this information, the project planning committee designed a program that featured one-to-one counseling supported by community-wide activities. A Vietnamese lay health counselor provided counseling to mothers with telephone follow-up that coincided with scheduled infant immunization visits to a twice-monthly Child Health Clinic for Vietnamese families. At all the follow-up assessment clinics scheduled over the 7-year duration of this continuing project, mothers who had had more than one counseling visit reported significantly less use of sleep-time and daytime bottles for their children, and their children demonstrated significantly reduced prevalence of caries compared to similarly aged children at baseline. One-to-one counseling with regular follow-up provided by a lay person of similar background and culture to the participants is an effective way to facilitate adoption of healthy behaviors and to improve oral health of children.