Monday Roundtable Luncheon
The mission of the Indian Health Service (IHS) is to raise the physical, mental, social, and spiritual health of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) to the highest level. Across all age groups, AI/ANs suffer disproportionately from dental disease. When compared to other racial or ethnic groups, AI/AN children 2-5 years old have more than double the number of decayed and filled teeth and overall dental caries experience as the next highest ethnic group, U.S. Hispanics, and more than four times that of U.S. white children. In the 6-9 year-old age group, eight out of 10 AI/AN children have a history of dental caries compared with 45% of the general U.S. population, and almost half of AI/AN children have untreated tooth decay compared to 17% of the general U.S. population in this age group. In the 13-15 year-old age group, eight out of 10 AI/AN dental clinic patients have a history of tooth decay, compared to 44% in the general U.S. population, and almost five times as many 13-15 year-old AI/AN youth have untreated decay compared to the general U.S. population. In adults, the disparity in disease is equally as pronounced. To address these disparities, the IHS Division of Oral Health has utilized different strategies and programs that include national initiatives, partnerships with private and federal partners, expanded use of alternative dental workforce models, and continuing dental education programs designed to train dental staff on best practices related to prevention and early intervention of dental disease.