Medicine & Dentistry-Dentistry and Dental Hygiene
University of Alberta
DMD, MSc, PhD
Summary of research:
Dental decay is the most common chronic childhood disease worldwide. While reduced markedly in general population, the prevalence of caries has increased in children aged 2 to 5 years primarily from low-income, ethnic minorities, and Aboriginal populations. Dental decay in children is a strong predictor of future dental decay with lifetime impact on their general health and well-being. Children of marginalized populations have lower rates of dental visits and higher rates of untreated decays compared to the general population. My research program, therefore, mainly focuses on better understanding of psychosocial determinants of oral health of young children in marginalized populations using a community-based participatory approach as well as exploring the feasibility of implementing community-based oral health promotion programs to improve children’s oral health. The main research activities include collecting information about dental health status and need of children, parents’ cultural beliefs and attitudes about oral health of young children and prevention of the disease, parent’s perceived behavioral control and sense of coherence, and psychosocial barriers and facilitators for parents to provide an optimal oral health including access to care for their children through qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods. My research program aims to develop an immigration perspective on management of risks to health as well as identifying strengths of immigrants or their positive effect on the health care system. This is not possible without having community-based organizations and policy makers on board to produce evidence and to promote the transfer of knowledge needed for strategic policy making based on the evidence.