Success Story: Recognizing Oral Health Research


A research team studying the oral health needs of an aging population was featured in a joint publication of the Canadian Arthritis Network (CAN) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) – Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis.

The team’s story was one of 15 selected to illustrate the value and impact of health research on the lives of Canadians. Dr. John O’Keefe, CDA director of knowledge networks, chaired the advisory committee that reviewed submissions from the research community.

“The CAN and CIHR are committed to working with Canadian health researchers to ensure that research studies are exciting and accessible to both health professionals and the public,” says Dr. O’Keefe. “It was a privilege to be involved in this process, which demonstrated the value of using knowledge translation to have a lasting impact.”

Lead author Dr. Mary McNally, associate professor at Dalhousie University’s faculty of dentistry, describes how their work was shaped through the involvement of community members: “Because seniors now keep their natural teeth for longer, we are facing new patterns of oral disease and unknown oral health needs for an aging population. Although we recognized a big gap in our understanding of these new trends, listening to community members—seniors, administrators of long-term care facilities, nurses working in continuing care, and educators in personal-care provider programs—allowed us to pinpoint problems that became the focus of our research questions.”

After a decade of research examining new patterns of oral disease, accompanying treatment needs and strategies to address needs, the Dalhousie research team has improved our understanding of oral health in older Canadians. As a result, their research is changing how oral health education and services are delivered and supported.

Visit the CIHR website to read the full publication, “Celebrating the Impact of Health Research: Success Stories in Arthritis, Bone, Muscle, Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, Oral Health, and Skin.”