Demand Dental Care for Native American Populations

Dentist Chair_By_Articseahorse

Target: Washington State House Appropriations Committee Chair, Hans Dunshee

Goal: Support legislation that would bring dental therapists to Native American populations that lack dental care.

Many Native American populations in Washington State are facing a dental health care crisis, with no access to dental services. Legislation is being considered that would allow for these native communities to bring dental therapists to their reservations to serve their populations. Dental health is an integral part of overall health, and it is essential that these communities gain access to the dental care they are desperately lacking.

The lack of dental health care within Native American populations is having a huge impact. Seventy-five percent of children born in 2006 in Washington have experienced tooth decay, and an even higher number have had dental pain or infections. In addition, 25 percent of Native Americans aged 35 to 44 have less than 20 of their natural teeth still remaining.

Dental health is something many people may not worry too much about, but it is an important and integral part of one’s overall health. Poor oral health has been linked to serious complications including stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. With serious long-lasting health implications being linked to poor dental care, it is important that these populations begin to have access to dental professionals.

Similar legislation to this proposed bill was passed in Alaska in 2005, and the program has been very successful; now 40,000 Native Americans who were going without dental care have access to regular care. With dental health being such an essential part of overall health, it is inexcusable that so many native communities are being denied access to dental health services. Please sign the petition to support efforts to bring dental care to the thousands of Native Americans who need it.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Chairman Dunshee,

I am writing to ask that you and your committee support the proposed legislation that would allow Native American communities within your state to recruit dental therapists to serve their populations. There is currently a massive dental health care crisis among Native American populations, and it is essential that these communities have access to regular dental health care.

The lack of dental health care within Native American populations is having a hugely negative impact. Seventy-five percent of children born in 2006 in Washington have experienced tooth decay, and 25 percent of adults aged 35 to 44 have less than 20 of their natural teeth still remaining. While some people may disregard the importance of oral health, it is actually an integral part of one’s overall health, and is not to be trivialized. For example, poor oral health has been linked to serious complications including stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.

Legislation similar to this proposed bill was passed in Alaska in 2005, and has had exemplary results with 40,000 Native Americans now having access to regular dental health care. Please take every effort to support this proposed legislation and ensure that these communities gain access to the services they desperately need.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Articseahorse

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