Title: Inuit Oral Health Survey Report 2008-2009
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Inuit Oral Health Survey Report 2008 – 2009

Executive Summary

This report provides the  results of the Oral Health Survey of Inuit conducted by the Office of the Chief  Dental Officer of Canada in  conjunction with the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Government of Nunatsiavut,  Department of Health and Social Development (Newfoundland  and Labrador); Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (Nunavut);  and the Inuvialuit Region Corporation (Northwest    Territories). It provides estimates of the burden of  oral health conditions as of 2008-2009 across all areas of Canada's north, except Nunavik. Although  the Region of Nunavik chose not to participate in the survey, it is important to  mention that they are in full support of the Inuit Oral Health Survey 2008-2009 results. Following  the standards of the oral health module of the Canadian Health Measures Survey  (OHM-CHMS), trained dentist-examiners examined 1216 Inuit ranging in age from 3  to 40+ years. Compared to southern Canadians, more Inuit  reported poor oral health and higher frequency of food avoidance and oral  pain. Fewer than half made a visit for  dental care even though very few reported that costs were a factor in avoiding  visiting or accepting recommended treatment. The prevalence of coronal caries was very  high among Inuit. Over 85% of  preschoolers had had dental caries with a mean of 8.22 deciduous (baby) teeth  affected. By the time of adolescence,  97.7% had been affected and among the oldest adults, the disease had affected  everyone. Counts of decayed missing or  filled permanent teeth increased at every age - from 2 at age 6-11 years, to  9.5 for adolescents, to 15 at age 20-39 years and over 19 DMFT among older  adults. The prevalence and mean DMFT  counts greatly exceeded similar counts for southern Canadians. Further, much of the disease remained  untreated. As an example, the proportion  of the affected teeth that remained decayed for adolescents and young adults  was 38.1% and 16.7% respectively compared to 14.9% and 12.6% among southern  Canadians. In addition, more of the  disease is treated by extractions among the Inuit. Among adolescents there were 20.3 extractions  per 100 filled; the OHM-CHMS found that among adolescents only 1.0 tooth had  been extracted per 100 filled. Root caries was also more prevalent and  less was treated compared to the findings of the OHM-CHMS. On the other hand, periodontal conditions, as  demonstrated by the CPITN Index, seemed less prevalent and less severe among  Inuit compared to the findings of the OHM-CHMS and to the Alaskan Native  patients. Given that more extractions are provided,  more of the oldest Inuit population (21.3%) than the southern population (4.4%  to 21.7%) were edentulous. However the  finding that 21.3% of older Inuit, aged 40 years+, were edentulous, is  demonstrably lower (better) than both Galan et al. (1993) and Rea et al, (1993)  found when they surveyed just the Keewatin Region. The finding that Canada's Inuit had more  dental disease (except for periodontal conditions) than their southern  countrymen is consistent with international studies that have also found that  indigenous people have worse oral health status compared to that of the dominant  cultures in their countries. While caries prevalence and severity has  decreased somewhat among 6 year-olds the proportion of decayed teeth  successfully treated among that same age-group has improved from 20% reported  in 1992 to 55% in the present survey. Still, the oral health conditions cannot  be treated away even if more resources could be applied. More emphasis on community-based primary  preventive measures backed up by early detection and prompt basic treatment  would appear to be the best course to make a difference. However, these two strategies cannot do the  job by themselves. The threats to health  such as high rates of tobacco use, crowded housing and food insecurity which  have been identified in earlier studies need to be addressed for the preventive  dental efforts to have maximal effect.
Reference (Biomedical Style):
Health Canada. Inuit Oral Health Survey Report 2008-2009. 2011.