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SOHC Terms of Reference was developed and voted upon at the SOHC Meeting held on May 12, 2014. It was a unanimous vote of approval from all the members present at the meeting.

During 2007-2008, two pilot projects began in Saskatoon and Regina to provide clinical oral health services to the residents at Long Term Care (LTC) homes. In the Saskatoon Health Region (SHR), the University of Saskatchewan, College of Dentistry and a private practice dentist, Dr. Raju Bhargava and his team, implemented an oral health project at St. Anne’s Home and Saskatoon Convalescent Home. Within this project, the LTC residents received free oral health assessments. Portable equipment was then used to provide oral treatment for consenting residents. Treatment was paid for by the resident or their family. LTC home staff also received basic oral health education from SHR Oral Health Program staff.

In Regina, in partnership with the College of Dental Surgeons of Saskatchewan (CDSS), University of Saskatchewan, College of Dentistry, and a private practice dentist, Dr. Maureen Lefebvre conducted a pilot project in the Santa Maria LTC home. Within this project, the LTC residents received free oral health assessments. Oral treatment was provided on site in dental operatory for residents who consented to treatment (paid for by the resident or their family).

Over the next few years, Dr. Bhargava and his team in Saskatoon, and Dr. Lefebvre and Dr. Ed Reed with their team in Regina provided services to the LTC residents. The Santa Maria Seniors Oral Services (SOS) Program that originated in 2007 as a pilot project, continues to improve the oral health of LTC residents.

The initial pilot project was instrumental in demonstrating the need for oral health services in LTC homes, on-site oral health professionals to coordinate services/staff/residents, and basic daily oral care for residents. An outcome of this initial pilot was a second pilot in 2011 that supported an Oral Health Coordinator (OHC) at two LTC homes in SHR – Parkridge Centre, and Sherbrooke Community Centre. This was called the Oral Health LTC Initiative. It was supported with a $20,000 Community Wellness Grant from SHR. A registered dental assistant was hired in partnership with the University of Saskatchewan, College of Dentistry as the OHC and assisted LTC staff and residents to access oral care at each site. The College of Dentistry-General Dental Residency Program, delegated dentists from the program to provide treatment for residents who consented. All initial assessments were free of charge, to encourage residents to participate.

At the same time as these LTC pilots were occurring, the Saskatchewan Oral Health Coalition (SOHC)* was launched. Through strategic planning, the SOHC members identified that oral health in LTC homes was a significant issue, and one that they wanted to focus on. One of the outcomes of the SOHC was the partnership involved in securing the SHR- Community Wellness Grant. As a result of the SOHC working with the community related to oral health in LTC homes, the Saskatchewan Oral Health Professions (SOHP)** began to develop standardized recommendations for LTC.

Since 2011, SOHC and SOHP groups have worked collaboratively to develop a Saskatchewan strategy for oral health in LTC. The group used best practice and evidence to select a strategy and resources that provided a solid foundation for the Saskatchewan Seniors’ Oral Health and LTC Strategy. The goal was to find resources that provided the necessary education/training at all levels (staff, family, resident) and that included community feedback and participation.

In 2011, the SOHP and SOHC endorsed the use and adaptation of Australia’s national program entitled, Better Oral Health in Residential Care. With the endorsement by the SOHP and SOHC, a licensing agreement was signed between SHR and Australia. The license allowed for Saskatchewan adaptations. During 2011-2013, SOHP representatives worked to modify the training resource to Canadian/Saskatchewan standards. In 2013, the resource was retitled Better Oral Health in Long Term Care – Best Practice Standards for Saskatchewan. It has been a community development and capacity building project from the onset. Partners and stakeholders have been supportive of the need to improve oral health in LTC homes.

The OHC is responsible for assessments and training LTC home staff using the Better Oral Health in Long Term Care – Best Practice Standards for Saskatchewan. The training occurred at Parkridge Centre in 2014. It was provided by dental health educators of the Saskatoon Health Region – Population and Public Health Oral Health Program. Daily oral care for Parkridge Centre residents is now occurring in all neighbourhoods. The OHC continues to mentor and support staff to provide daily oral care.

In addition, dental staff in all health regions have been orientated to Better Oral Health in Long Term Care – Best Practice Standards for Saskatchewan. Several health regions and oral health professionals are showing interest in providing dental services in LTC and personal care homes. This includes the implementation of daily oral care following the Better Oral Health in Long Term Care – Best Practice Standards for Saskatchewan.

Currently, the Better Oral Health in Long Term Care – Best Practice Standards for Saskatchewan is being implemented at Sherbrooke Community Centre and Sunnyside Nursing Home in the Saskatoon Health Region. In LTC homes now following Better Oral Health in Long Term Care – Best Practice Standards for Saskatchewan, residents’ oral health has significantly improved. Residents have clean teeth, fresh breath, and are able to chew well and smile. This has improved their self-esteem and quality of live. Residents who have accessed dental treatment on-site are free of oral discomfort, pain, and infection.

In September 2016, the SOHC and SOHP presented the report -through slides and video-to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Health did state that they were very impressed with the presentation and level of information. The Ministry of Health was motivated and interested in keeping the momentum going on this work. They will be looking for opportunities to share the strategy/training with other Directors of Care in all health regions.

The SOHC and SOHP will continue to work collaboratively with LTC homes, policy makers and government to implement the model for all Saskatchewan LTC homes. Saskatchewan seniors and LTC residents need and deserve a healthy mouth to have quality of life.

* The Saskatchewan Oral Health Coalition was originally the Saskatoon Oral Health Coalition until 2012. SOHC is a group of oral health professionals, community agencies, health region staff, provincial and national government representatives, and interested groups and individuals whose common goal is to improve oral health, particularly among vulnerable populations.

** SOHP is a group that represents legislated oral health associations including the College of Dental Surgeons of Saskatchewan, Denturists Society of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Dental Assistants’ Association, Saskatchewan Dental Hygienists’ Association, and Saskatchewan Dental Therapists Association)

CDC DentalCheck Application Link to website

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new mobile application (app) to assist dental facilities with monitoring compliance with recommended infection prevention practices. The app, CDC DentalCheck, is a tool dental practices can use to evaluate dental health care personnel compliance with administrative policies and clinical practice infection prevention and control recommendations.

Public Health Ontario- Oral Health Snapshot Link to website

Public Health Ontario launched “Oral Health Snapshot”, a new interactive data tool. This tool will help you make sense of trends in behaviours and outcomes related to oral health in your region. This will help inform public health decision-making and planning. Snapshots is a suite of tools using maps, charts and tables to help you compare public health unit and provincial data, and identify trends over time. Oral Health Snapshot uses data from the Canadian Community Health Survey, which includes self-reported data for individuals aged 12 and older. This provides access to statistics and information related to oral health for Ontario and its 36 public health units.

Download the user guide to learn how to navigate snapshots

Smiles for Life: A National Oral Heath Curriculum Link to website

Smiles for Life produces educational resources to ensure the integration of oral health and primary care. There is an online teaching curriculum and online Continuing Medical Education/Continuing Education (CME/CE modules) around oral health for non-dental practitioners, out of the USA.

The Smiles for Life curriculum consists of eight 45-minute modules covering core areas of oral health relevant to health professionals. User competencies are measured through assessments at course completion. Users must score an 80% or higher to receive credit for each course.

The Public Health, Niagara Region, Ontario has started to Canadianize the modules! One module has been completed in its Canadian version so far, Child Oral Health.


  • Established in 2003 under the umbrella of the Northern Health Strategy
  • Initially composed of dental professionals in both Northern Provincial and First Nations health jurisdictions along with the College of Dentistry at the University of Saskatchewan and university of Manitoba
  • Initial goals were to work together to improve oral health and access to oral health services utilizing a population health approach
  • Early accomplishments included:
  • Partnerships with the Colleges of Dentistry at the Universities of Saskatchewan and Manitoba
  • Continuing Educations sessions to enable professionals to practice at the cutting edge
  • Standardized health promotion messaging and resources
  • Best Practice Standards promoted
  • Knowledge Transfer to communities and allied health professions
  • Development and implementation of standardized paper chart system
  • Exploration of e-record dental chart system
  • Development of the Oral Health Risk Assessment Tool
  • Revision of Health Canada’s Children’s Oral Health Initiative Fluoride Varnish training manuals and resources
  • Development of Anticipatory Guidance document and complementary teaching presentation
  • Facilitated standardized Infection Control Procedures through training
  • Worked with the Northern Healthy Eating Team to promote healthy eating through collaboration with the schools and Maternal-Child teams


  • Be a resource for dental public health at the local, regional, provincial, and national levels
  • Work as an inter-jurisdictional team to develop and implement best practices which will improve oral and systemic health outcomes of Northern Saskatchewan residents
  • Support membership diversity to ensure inter-professional and inter-jurisdictional representation


Over time the NOHWG has evolved principles that guide their action:

  • Utilization of the Continuum of Care in Population Health that involves promotion, prevention, and treatment
  • Development of a Team that is inclusive, cooperative, collaborative, interprofessional and interjurisdictional, prizes professionalism and ethics, as well as works through partnership and consensus in a manner that ensures:
  • A holistic perspective
  • Cultural appropriateness
  • Client centeredness
  • Continuous Quality Improvement by following Best Practice Standards
  • Respect for Jurisdictional Authority with our populations
  • Resource sharing


As this Working Group evolved, their activities coalesced in three areas:

  1. Improving Service Delivery
    • Implementing a Sugar Strategy in collaboration with the Northern Healthy Eating Team in all schools and communities. The NOHWG worked to develop awareness activities as well as helped with the alignment with the Saskatchewan Education’s Health Curriculum
    • Aligned messaging with that of the Canadian Dental Association, Canadian Association of Public Health Dentistry, Canadian Pediatric Association, Canadian Chief Dental Health Officer, the Canadian Oral Health Framework, the recommendations of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences Oral Health Panel’s document Improving Access to Oral Health Care for Vulnerable People Living in Canada (2014) and their identification of the 5 A’s of vulnerability (availability, accessibility, affordability, accommodation, and acceptability)
    • Worked interprofessionally with the Faculties of Nursing, Medicine, and Dentistry at the University of Saskatchewan to ensure that the same messaging was conveyed to their students and colleagues
    • Encouraging First Dental Visit and the establishment of a Dental Home before one year of age
    • Open Cup Initiative which encourages use of small cups rather than sippy cups as infants transition from breast to cup
    • Worked collaboratively and interprofessionally to standardize Prenatal Classes
  2. Increasing Access to Care
    • Established working relationships with Health Promotion, Nutrition, Population Health, Schools, Northern School Boards, Communities, Nursing, Speech Language Pathologists, Kids First Program, Head Start Program, Home Care, Indian Child Family Services, and the College of Dental Surgeons of Saskatchewan to increase access by removing barriers.
    • Provision of Interprofessional Workshops in Schools and Communities through the Health Eating Team and Maternal Child Programs
    • Advocated for the re-establishment of a School of Dental Therapy by working as members of NITHA’s Oral Health Working Group
    • Collaborated to provide a multi-day Oral Health Clinic to graduates of La Loche High School in the late spring of 2016 - all oral health services were free of charge to these students, all materials were donated, and students were presented with gifts that would help them to maintain good oral health
  3. Vehicle for Continuing Education for Licensing Bodies
    • Provided opportunities for skills develop and update through the College of Dentistry at the University of Saskatchewan in collaboration with the Saskatchewan Dental Therapists Association on numerous topics including:
    • Provided training for Fluoride Varnishing
    • Facilitated continuing education for oral health professionals in the North

The NOHWG would like to thank CAPHD for the 2016 Merit Award received at the National Conference in September 2016 in Edmonton. [This award recognizes the efforts of groups and individuals, in improving the oral health of all Canadians. These efforts can include, but are not limited to, administrative work, interprofessional education, and health promotion].

Chair of the NOHWG, Penny Griffith from the Athabasca Health Authority, accepted the award on behalf of the group.

Canada’s ToothFairy National Children’s Oral Health Foundation Link to website

Canada’s ToothFairy: National Children’s Oral Health Foundation of Canada is dedicated to raising awareness of one of the most prevalent chronic childhood illnesses: paediatric dental disease, facilitating the delivery of comprehensive oral health services and eliminating this preventable disease from future generations. With a growing Affiliate Network of exemplary non-profit community programs, Kids Club, and professional and student service programs, Canada’s ToothFairy is building a powerful, united effort to eliminate tooth decay and protect the smiles of our most vulnerable children.

America’s ToothFairy National Children’s Oral Health Foundation Link to website

America’s ToothFairy: National Children’s Oral Health Foundation® is dedicated to eliminating children’s pain and suffering from pediatric dental disease and improving quality of life for at-risk children. As the Educator of children and families, Preventer of disease, and Protector of our most vulnerable children, America’s ToothFairy drives systems change by delivering proven programs and resources that expand access to care and education, improve oral health literacy, and promote overall wellness.

CommunityView Collaboration (CVC) Link to website

The CVC is an exciting tool that aims to provide relevant, reliable, local information and evidence to inform planning, decision-making and policy for Saskatoon and the surrounding community. CVC can:

  • Quickly and easily access local community level data
  • Analyze data through tables, charts and maps
  • Access CommunityViews about our community
  • Collaborate on important community issues

Canadian Oral Health Framework Link to document

The Canadian Oral Health Framework 2013-18 (COHF) is the second national oral health Framework produced by the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Dental Working Group. It follows The Canadian Oral Health Strategy (COHS), 2005-10 during which time considerable progress was made and significant goals accomplished – most notably the creation of the Office of the Chief Dental Officer, a national report on oral health status (Canadian Health Measures Survey) and coordination of national recommendations for preventive interventions (e.g. water fluoridation, toothpaste use, fluoriderinses).

Saskatchewan Dentist Directory

The College of Dental Surgeons of Saskatchewan website is a good source for searching dentists in Saskatchewan.

You can search for dentist by:

Oral health is an important contributor to overall health and well-being, and thus needs to be properly defined, assessed, managed and promoted. However, an understanding of what is meant by, and the implications of, oral health may differ among different stakeholders.

FDI's definition is an attempt to propose a universally applicable and acceptable definition of oral health to:

  • more clearly position oral health within health
  • demonstrate that oral health does not occur in isolation, but is an important part of overall health and well-being
  • raise awareness of the different dimensions of oral health as a dynamic construct and
  • empower patients by acknowledging how individual’s values, perceptions and expectations impact oral health.
  • Importantly, this definition lays the foundation for the future development of standardized assessment and measurement tools.

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Last modified: March 14, 2017