Swinomish Tribe | KNKX

Swinomish Tribe

didgwálič Wellness Center / The Swinomish Tribe

 

The Swinomish Tribe is opening a substance abuse treatment clinic in Anacortes, and staff are calling it the most comprehensive drug addiction program in the state.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The rate of tooth decay among Native Americans is higher than any other population. And now, tribes across Washington state will be able to use federal money to hire dental health aide therapists.

Mark Arehart / knkx

Staff from the dental clinic on the Swinomish Reservation will be in front of state lawmakers this week. This will be the sixth time the tribe is asking for the state’s approval to fund certain dental services. And tribal leaders say they may have a shot.

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.

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.”

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.”