Center for Native Oral Health Research (CNOHR)

Specific aims

The first clinical trial was a cluster-randomized trial to test the efficacy of an instructional intervention with parents of Head Start children on a large Southwestern Indian Reservation; the intervention was carried out by tribal “Community Oral Health Specialists” who were trained to work within the community and provide fluoride varnish in the Head Start Centers. After two years, children in the program did not have less caries experience or lower scores, although when parents of children participated more actively in the program, their children’s caries scores were lower.

The second randomized trial tested the efficacy of Motivational Interviewing with new mothers of infants in a Northern Plains tribe over a period of three years beginning at the child’s birth.  At the end of the trial, there were no differences in the caries experience and scores of the two groups of children.

Research projects

  • Undergraduate dental students were trained in oral health prevention research (1DP70DO18422-01).
  • Secondary data analyses were carried out to determine the mechanisms defining the role of health literacy in efforts of American Indian parents to improve oral health of infants (R01DE027077).
  • A developmental study of the relationship of periodontitis in American Indian adolescents to other health indicators.
  • A developmental study of the responses of Latina mothers of infants to videotaped oral health messages in the context of well-child medical visits (1R34DE022266-01).
  • Several studies of measures developed, adverse events, common factors were carried out in collaboration with oral health disparities centers at University of California San Francisco and Boston University.


As indicated above, in neither of the clinical trials did the children of those in the intervention groups differ in caries experience from those in the control groups.  The trials highlighted the challenges of decreasing early childhood caries in a group with the highest caries experience of any population group in our country. Additional analyses have led to a better understanding of some of the factors that may be addressed in future programs to improve oral health of these children in the future.

Published reports of the trials and sub-studies from CNOHR

Centers for American Indian & Alaska Native Health

Colorado School of Public Health

CU Anschutz

Nighthorse Campbell Native Health Building

13055 East 17th Avenue

Mail Stop F800

Aurora, CO 80045

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