CAN DO focuses on studying ways to improve the dental health of groups that have historically had worse oral health. While CAN DO's primary focus is preventing tooth decay or early childhood caries (ECC) in young children, CAN DO also proposes to eliminate health disparities among low-income individuals and communities through the promulgation of sound research, evidence-based practices, and policy changes aimed at improving the health and well-being of the general public.
CAN DO is a multidisciplinary, multi-project research Center designed around a community-based approach for the purpose of promoting the idea that oral health is the gateway to overall health and well-being.
In 2000, United States Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher issued a report which found that oral health is essential to one's general health and well-being.
Among the recommendations proposed to help Americans achieve better oral and overall health was the elimination of health disparities.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) first defined health disparities in 1999 as "differences in the incidence, prevalence, mortality, and burden of diseases and other adverse health conditions that exist among specific population groups in the United States."
Since then, many scientific studies and much research aimed at reducing health disparities have been conducted.
This is where the Center to Address Disparities in Oral Health or CAN DO comes in.
Understanding, Preventing, & Reducing Oral Health Disparities
Research conducted by CAN DO is supported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under award number U54DE019285.
According to the NIH:
"Health Disparities Research (HD) includes basic, clinical and social sciences studies that focus on identifying, understanding, preventing, diagnosing, and treating health conditions such as diseases, disorders, and other conditions that are unique to, more serious, or more prevalent in subpopulations in socioeconomically disadvantaged (i.e., low education level, live in poverty) and medically underserved, rural, and urban communities."
To that end, CAN DO provides:
- Support for patient- and population-oriented research related to reducing oral health disparities in children;
- Core facilities to provide technical services and resources to Center-affiliated projects;
- An enriched environment for training future health-care professionals and scientists, especially those from underrepresented groups; and
- Mechanisms to increase collaboration among investigators in CAN DO-supported projects across health professions and affiliated, collaborating public & private institutions on the West Coast.