Oral Health Education
Native American Connections is committed to providing health and wellness resources that are beneficial for everyone. Check out these educational resources. Stay healthy, friends!
June is Oral Health Month! Check out our news post from this month's awareness blast: View the Post
Strong Teeth, Strong Kid
Poor oral health is linked to various diseases including diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. For American Indian / Alaska Native populations, these health issues have heavily impacted community health and overall wellbeing. While Native American Connections does not provide dental care, we've teamed up with the Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Health Care and oral health partners throughout Arizona to support Native families on their oral health journey with the Strong Teeth, Strong Kid campaign. Through this oral health initiative, we're providing helpful oral health tips for young children, dentist etiquette and answers to common questions, as well as contact information for dental clinics in Arizona where you can schedule appointments and annual check-ups.
Risks We Can Avoid
American Indian / Alaska Native children, ages 1 to 5, have the highest rates of tooth decay in the United States. Left untreated, tooth decay can have serious consequences including needless pain, difficulty chewing which may compromise nutrition and development, and increased costs of dental and medical treatment later in life.
Oral health can impact and become impacted by other chronic diseases like diabetes, which American Indian / Alaska Native identifying individuals are at a higher risk for than any other population in the US. Not only are people with diabetes more susceptible to serious gum disease, but serious gum disease may have the potential to affect blood glucose control and contribute to the progression of diabetes. Research suggests that people with diabetes are at higher risk for oral health problems, such as gingivitis (an early stage of gum disease) and periodontitis (serious gum disease). People with diabetes are at an increased risk for serious gum disease because they are generally more susceptible to bacterial infection, and have a decreased ability to fight bacteria that invade the gums.
Supporting Oral Health
Because Native communities face socio-economic issues, systemic failures by US governments to support community health, and overall systemic racism and discrimination, maintaining oral health can be difficult, even seemingly hostile to navigate. We recognize these factors and are actively working to creating more opportunities for Native parents and guardians to access dental care and reduce the stigma of care. Preventing tooth decay and supporting healthy dental habits will contribute to overall health. Ensuring your child has the right information and attitude towards oral health will help them build and maintain those healthy habits their whole life.
To address this oral health crisis among Native communities and aid guardians on their family's dental health journey, the Strong Teeth, Strong Kid campaign is raising awareness of the importance of dental milestones for American Indian children ages 0 to 5 years. The campaign's S-milestones will help ensure children grow up with Totally AHHH-SOME Teeth and provide helpful information for parents and guardians to support their child's oral and overall health.
Caring for Your Child's Dental Health
The Strong Teeth, Strong Kid campaign has helpful information for American Indian / Alaska Native families; here you'll find additional facts and care tips as well as fun activities for your strong kid.
Be sure to check out the STSK S-milestones, a list of oral health expectations and actions for children from birth to 6 years old.
Providers and Resources
You can reach out to dental clinics and resources from these lists to get connected with oral health services in Phoenix and in tribal clinics throughout the state.
Our Oral Health Actions
Native American Connections supports legislative actions to add a Dental Benefit for Pregnant Women or a full Adult Dental Benefit to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). AHCCCS is Arizona’s Medicaid program.
Native American Connections is a member of the Arizona Oral Health Coalition and OPEN, the national Oral Health Progress and Equity Network. Participation in the Coalition and OPEN is free and a great way to learn more about oral health data, clinical efforts, legislative policy and funding to improve oral health care across Arizona and the United States.