Dental Program

Program Purpose

The Dental Health program provides information and support for families to prevent dental disease in young children.  The program supports the community to improve oral health, focusing on dental prevention and young families.

Dental staff work out of a number of Public Health Units across Island Health, in First Nations Communities and with community groups.  Staff visit First Nations bands, Native Friendship Centres, parenting groups, neighbourhood houses, immigrant groups and other community organizations.  Community program coordinators can contact Dental satff to discuss their needs.


  • Smiles First Program - One-on-one consultation for at-risk pregnant women and parents with infants, toddlers and preschoolers.  Smiles First provides assessment and skill building for parents to understand factors that increase the risk of dental disease, and learn ways to reduce risk.  Visual screening can identify early stages of deacy, and fluoride varnish or dental referral is provided as needed.  This sevrices is available at all health units and some community locations.
  • Children's Oral Health Initiative (COHI) - A First Nations Health Authority program offered to some bands.  COHI services are provided by a Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) and a COHI Aide employed by the band.  Services are similar to those offered through the Smiles First Program.
  • Dental Screening for kindergarten students - Part of a province-wide survey every three years with targeted schools only screened in between.
  • Professional expertise and support for Public Health Nurses, care providers and group facilitators of parenting programs in the community.  Information is provided on basic dental health, referring clients, available resources, and other community supports available.
  • Screening, education and referral for children with developmental disabilities, their families and caregivers at home and school.
  • Financial assistance to help eligible children access dental care. 

Dental Health Services for Community Living (DHSCL)

Dental hygienists support children and adults with developmental disabilities who need help to achieve good oral health and to access private dental care in the community.  These services are available to clients, their personal and professional caregivers, family members and Community Living agencies.

  • DHSCL Service Description (PDF)
  • Dental Support Services (PDF) 

Children's Oral Health Initiative (COHI)

Island Health has a Memorandum of Agreement with Health Canada to provide the Children's Oral Health Initiative (COHI) program for some bands on Vancouver Island.

Dental Care Options

  • BC Healthy Kids Program (PDF)
  • People with Disabilities or Multiple Barriers (PDF)
  • Dental Options for Families in Victoria Area (PDF)
  • Dental Options for Families in Central & North Vancouver Island (PDF)

Accessing Services

Contact your local Public Health Unit to find the location of the nearest dental program.  

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