Health | Opinion

Native Youth: Bring dental therapy providers to Indian Country

Dental health aide therapists in Alaska provide services to rural Native villages. Photo from Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium / Facebook

Four Native youth leaders call on tribes to bring dental therapy providers to their reservations:
Native youth like us are connected to other tribal nations that are passionate about building relationships across communities and know about the successful programs that tribes in Alaska have developed. Courageous Alaska Native leaders brought innovative oral health care to the United States with dental therapy providers. But it was not easy. Outside groups that do not know our communities aggressively opposed dental therapists. Still, the Alaska tribes were successful in creating dental therapists that now provide care to more than 45,000 people who otherwise would not receive medical attention. As the most studied dental provider worldwide, the safety and quality of dental therapy care speaks for itself.

In Alaska, tribal leaders and youth advocacy changed reality for their Nations.

Our leaders are responsible for making health care system decisions for us and any attempts by states or special-interest groups to prevent them from doing so are unacceptable.

Leaders of sovereign Indian nations are the authority to decide whether they use dental therapy to help improve the quality of health care for us. Let’s make a positive change for our Indian communities and support dental therapy providers.

Get the Story:
Aliyah Chavez, Eriq Swiftwater, Autumn Harry & Danielle Finn: Dental Therapy Providers Help Indian Country (Indian Country Today 3/26)

Related Stories:
Michael Bird: Dental care comes up short for New Mexico tribes (03/09)
Mark Trahant: Improving oral health through tribal sovereignty (03/11)