6.7.8 Percentage of First Nations children living on reserve aged 6 to 11 years with dental caries, Canada, 2008/2010

Tooth caries No tooth caries
Dental Caries 26 74

Source: CICH graphic created using data adapted from the First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey (RHS) 2008/10, National report on adults, youth and children living in First Nations Communities.

In 2008/2010, 26% of First Nations children living on reserve aged 6 to 11 years had dental caries.

For more information, see the “Early childhood tooth decay” factsheet developed by the National Collaborating Centre on Aboriginal Health and the Canadian Paediatric Society’s Position Statement on Early Childhood Caries in Indigenous Communities.

Tooth decay is a major child health issue for Indigenous children. Multiple studies have shown that Indigenous children are disproportionately burdened by dental cavities.1  Dental cavities can contribute to adverse health effects, including altered chewing, eating and sleeping patterns due to pain, potential growth restriction, speech difficulties, low self-esteem, and poor bite.2 It has also been associated with infectious diseases like respiratory tract infections and acute otitis media, as well as with obesity in children with families of low socioeconomic status, though possibly from common risk factors. Common risk factors for dental disease include poverty, which is prevalent among First Nations children, as well as prolonged use of the bottle or training cups containing sugary drinks and high consumption of sugary snacks. Disease prevention strategies that emphasize not only the preservation of healthy teeth, but also emphasize community development and address the determinants of health, are needed in Indigenous communities to help address dental disease.3

1National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health. (2013). Early Childhood Tooth Decay -accessed November 14, 2018.
2Irvine, J.D., Holve, S., Krol, D., Schroth, R., & the Canadian Paediatric Society, First Nations, Inuit and Métis Health Committee. (2011). Early childhood caries in Indigenous communities: Position statement. Paediatric Child Health, 16(6), 351-7.
3First Nations Information Governance Centre. (2012). Report on the findings of the First Nations Oral Health Survey (FNOHS) 2009-10. Ottawa, ON: Author.

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