Children’s Oral Health Initiative prepares for another busy year at Aakom-Kiyii Health Services.

COHI aide Chantelle English applying dental sealants as part of the Childrens Oral Health Initiative. Photo by Tawnya Plain Eagle.

Oral health care program aims to combat the high percentage of tooth decay in young children.

Children’s Oral Health Initiative (COHI) is a program that dedicates itself to promote healthy dental habits to children under 12 years of age living on the reserve.

Chantelle English, Children's Oral Health Care Initiative Aide, says that the program offers a number of health services such as dental screening, fluorides, and helpful tips on maintaining good oral care in children and babies.

"The COHI aide is a community member that is hired by the community to support the dental professional and provide some COHI services independently," Reads the Children's Oral Health Initiative website. 

The aides are an essential link between the dental professional and the community.

English also provides dental sealants to children, which are thin plastic coatings that are applied to the surfaces of the back teeth to protect against tooth decay.

Poor dental health can lead to diabetes, respiratory disease, heart disease and strokes because bacteria from tooth plaque can travel from your mouth to your lungs causing infections.

COHI also offers one on one education sessions to expectant mothers.

“Keeping their mouths healthy, pregnant women can reduce the risk of having a pre-term or low birth weight baby,” she said.

The program is delivered by dental professional Nina Balan and COHI Chantelle English at the Aakom-Kiyii Health services on Tuesday or Thursdays.

They are also delivering services at Napi’s Elementary School and Piikani Day Care and Headstart throughout the school year.

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