Oral or Poster Presentation
Concurrent Session 2D - Healthy Life Trajectories: Indigenous Health & Interprofessional Practice
Introduction: Adequate and quality prenatal and early childhood nutrition is imperative to oral health development in infants. The effects are expressed in infant dentition and early childhood oral health (ECOH). This qualitative study aimed to understand Indigenous communities’ views on ECOH, to inform the scaling up of the Healthy Smile Happy Child (HSHC) initiative in First Nations (FN) and Metis communities. We asked where participants learn about early childhood oral care and if they think prenatal nutrition affects a child's teeth. This is part of a multi-year oral health promotion campaign to prevent early childhood caries (ECC) and promote ECOH.
Methods: A total of 8 sharing circles and focus groups were completed with 59 FN and Metis community members in one urban and three rural communities in Manitoba, Canada. Interview questions were semi-structured and encouraged in-depth participant driven responses. Thematic analysis was guided by grounded theory.
Results: A majority of respondents (67%) indicated either that prenatal nutrition has little or no effect on infant oral health or, that they were unclear what the connection may be. However, some expressed that prenatal nutrition affects infant tooth formation (e.g. nutritional deficiencies), may protect baby’s health long term, creates good oral health consciousness and habits for the mother and child and can enhance baby’s overall health. On where participants learned about infant oral care, some FN respondents said they learn from Elders’ teachings and use traditional medicines and methods for infant oral care. FN and Metis respondents learned from primary care physicians, nurses, prenatal programs, family, friends, schools, social and print media and from their own and their children’s oral health experiences.
Conclusion: Targeted oral health information and education in First Nation and Metis communities is recommended, to encourage better understanding
and adequate and quality prenatal and early childhood nutrition as a preventive measure for ECC.