dental care

'Confronting Dental Decay In Indian Country' Part III

May 5, 2016
Mark Arehart / KPLU

The rate of tooth decay among Native Americans is higher than any other population. While the dental community agrees it’s a major health crisis, they can’t reach consensus on how to solve the problem.

'Confronting Dental Decay In Indian Country' Part II

May 4, 2016
Ariel Van Cleave / KPLU


On the Swinomish Reservation in Washington’s Skagit Valley, one full-time dentist serves 3,000 patients. While it’s an improvement from years past when a rotating list of dentists would visit the tribe, it’s still not enough to treat the high number of people with rotting teeth. Tribal leaders are calling the current situation a “health crisis.”

'Confronting Dental Decay In Indian Country' Part I

May 3, 2016
Ariel Van Cleave / KPLU


Rotting teeth, a fear of the dentist’s drill, long lines out the clinic door: These challenges are facing the Swinomish Tribe.

For decades, dentists would visit the reservation once a month. And if you ask tribal member Aurelia Bailey what that was like, she says it was “horrific.”

When a child’s first tooth erupts, the American Dental Association recommends parents get them into the dentist. For low-income families, that sometimes isn't an option. But Washington’s low-income kids have more dentist visits than in any other state.