CIHR invests $1.1 million for a collaborative national oral health survey

Researchers from various disciplines and institutions, including Western University, have collectively received $1.1 million funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to launch a national survey of Canadians’ oral health care access, risk determinants and associations between oral care and general wellbeing and health.

Dr. Sharat Pani, Assistant Professor, Dentistry and his co-investigators hopes to address knowledge gaps related to the oral health of Canadians. Only two national surveys have previously been conducted on oral health in Canada, with the most recent one being done in 2009. 

The research group will engage with Statistics Canada’s existing Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) platform to conduct the survey. The CHMS is a regularly repeated health survey which gathers detailed self-reported information, as well as physical and biological data from a representative sample of people living in Canada.

“The Canadian Health Measures survey is a unique opportunity to study the overall health of the Canadian population,” Pani said. “This grant allows us to collect and analyze vital oral health data which can be correlated with overall health data.” 

The project will create additions to the existing survey that will allow for the collection of relevant self-reported and clinical information specifically related to participants’ oral health. Once the data is collected by Statistics Canada, Pani and his co-investigators aim to identify relationships between oral health and disease and systemic health, social determinants and dental care access, and impacts of various dental treatments.

The researchers hope their findings will instigate opportunities for new research discovery and research training, as well as knowledge translation and mobilization in the field of oral health. 

“Projects such as these are only possible when researchers from schools across Canada and across disciplines come together,” Pani explained.

“This type of collaborative research allows us to study oral health on a scale that might not otherwise be feasible, and to integrate oral health research into public health research on a national level.”

Eventually, the project hopes to extend their partnership to other large national databank projects and potentially find opportunities for collaboration with international colleagues involved in similar national oral health surveys.