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Cavities three times more widespread in Native American children

Jan 27, 2012


Poor health has afflicted Native Americans on reservations since there have been reservations, but a recent study has spotlighted a potential source of other health issues.

Native American children in the United States and Canada suffer disproportinately from oral health issues like untreated cavities at three times the rate of other kids, according to a statement published last summer by the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

Sixty-eight percent of 2,633 indigenous born children aged two to five living in the United States, Alaska and Canada had untreated cavities, the survey said. The report noted that in some Canadian indigenous communities, more than 90 percent of children had cavities and tooth decay.

Dr. James Irvine, co-author of the news release, said that the oral health of Native Americans children behind that of other North American youth.

Co-author Dr. Steve Holve added that while the skills of dental colleagues are highly valued by Academy physicians, many in their organization want to shift the focus of treatment for early childhood cavities to primary care physicians and preventive measures such as topical fluoride varnishes.

Based on this  study researchers have recommended that Native American children have improved access to oral health care along with other preventive measures under the guidance of a pediatrician.  Included in their recommendations:

  • Educate parents and caregivers of infants and children on proper oral hygiene and diet.
  • Use fluoridated toothpaste under proper supervision after the first tooth comes in.
  • Prenatal screening for dental health and dental care referrals for pregnant women.
  • Better access to oral health prevention and treatment services for children.

Source: Medline Plus



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