‘Kungatsiajuk’: Supporting the Healthy Smiles of NunatuKavut Children

2011-2014

Nominated Principal Investigator: Dr. Debbie Martin

A child’s smile is a beautiful thing. But when a child suffers from oral disease and decay a smile can be a source of pain and embarrassment. Poor oral health can affect children’s self-esteem, their eating and sleeping habits and eventually their overall health. Aboriginal children in Canada have much higher rates of tooth decay than non-Aboriginal children. The children of NunatuKavut, who live in Inuit communities located in the isolated south coast region of Labrador, face many difficulties that prevent them from having ‘kungatsiajuk’ (a healthy smile). Many of these difficulties are related to the high cost of travelling to access specialized oral health care outside of their communities, along with very few opportunities to learn about how to prevent oral health problems from happening in the first place. We are working with the people of NunatuKavut to identify oral health needs of children (ages 0-17). With an understanding of these needs, we are creating and implementing culturally appropriate oral health promotion and oral health-care service delivery interventions for children. The success of this program will inform policy recommendations regarding oral health in NunatuKavut and other Aboriginal communities across Canada, and importantly, it will ensure our Inuit children have ‘kungatsiajuk’.