Addressing Native American Children’s Dental Disease Crisis

Native American and Canadian Aboriginal children are experiencing a health crisis from dental disease. Children in these communities are five times more likely to develop dental disease and have five times as many cavities or fillings (an average of 5.8 for children ages 2 to 5) than the average American child.

New AAP Policy Statement “Early Childhood Caries in Aboriginal Communities” released in June 2021
Pediatricswhich updates the AAP's 2011 recommendations, provides treatment guidance and urgency to address this dental health crisis.

In many Aboriginal communities, 90 per cent of young children aged 3-5 years have dental disease, which means more oral surgeries are needed – children from communities with a higher proportion of Aboriginal people need more oral surgeries, which means more oral surgeries are needed. This figure is seven times that of children in communities with a high proportion of Aboriginal people.

In remote Aboriginal areas of Canada, dental surgery rates are 15 times higher than average, and 73% of Alaska Native children have received dental surgery, which is at least 50 times higher than average.

Reasons include the oral microbiome, diet and poverty, less access to fluoridated water in the community, fewer dentists and premature tooth eruption in Aboriginal children. The policy urges early preventive measures before age 2, having every child in these communities see a dentist by age 1, and new preventive and therapeutic measures such as diamine silver fluoride and dental sealants.

Additionally, Native American parents are urged to begin brushing their babies' teeth immediately after birth.

More information

The information contained on this website should not replace the medical care and advice of a pediatrician. Your pediatrician may recommend different treatments based on individual facts and circumstances.

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