Even for those unaware of Native American tribes, it’s important to understand theirs and other cultures’ means of dental care. Why, though, is this so important?
Because many other cultures around the world lack modern-day dental service and even resort to old ways of keeping their teeth healthy, it proves to us just how important and how lucky we are to have modern dental care at our fingertips.
Seeing that Native American preschoolers are four times more likely to develop cavities than Caucasian children is frightening.
After dentists evaluated a three-year-old member of a Native American tribe, they found that the child’s mouth appeared to have decay all throughout their teeth, from top to bottom.
As well as this, 68% of Native American adults have untreated cases of tooth decay, almost three times as worse as the rest of U.S. adults. However, Native Americans want a change in the way they receive dental care.
Unfortunately, because most dentists don’t accept Medicaid, Native Americans have even more trouble receiving the proper dental care they require for their pearly whites. On the bright side, though, there is and will be a change.
The question, though, is whether or not Native American tribes, which have high rates of tooth decay and oral diseases, have the legal right to train, license, and hire dental therapists specifically for their tribes, in which the American Dental Association has already been banning in the lower 48 states.
The problem here though, besides Native Americans not being able to receive modern dental care, is the debate that these tribes are being discriminated against for the rights other Americans already have at hand.
Being a part of their own communities while living on U.S. soil, it’s difficult to allow or disallow their rights as they are technically their own society, yet, they still are very much a part of America.
About ten years ago, tribes in Alaska actually won the right to hire such dental therapists, though the American Dental Association sued the tribes as well as the dental therapists.
The Native American tribes, though, eventually won against the Dental Association and are now able to hire dental therapists to help thousands of members from dozens of tribes in the state of Alaska.
The fight is not over yet as the rest of the United States has yet to allow tribal members their dental right, that is, until they receive official state approval.
Swinomish tribes are fighting for their right for dental care. Oregon and other states in the U.S. are finally implementing laws allowing Native American tribes to have modern dental care for their tribes, however, there is still time before every tribe in the United States is given such authority.
For now, though, it’s safe to say that Native American tribes in the United States will eventually receive their right. It’s vital that we stay on top of dental news such as this because it’s important to mention just how important proper modern dental care is.
As well as this, we should be fighting alongside tribes and other communities to encourage the fight for better oral health across the globe.