Indian Reservation Experiences Major Amounts of Decay

Dentistry Today


The people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota are going through a disturbing trend. There are 60 percent of all adults who have some type of tooth decay and 40 percent of children.

The information comes from the Checkup Study, funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. These rates are about three times as high as the average rate in the United States.

This is the first study of this nature to be conducted in this area in 12 years. The information was revealed at the 68th National Congress of American Indians Conference in Portland, Ore.

The people of the Pine Ridge encounter these high levels of tooth decay because of a lack of a sufficient amount of dentists in the area.

For the children, the decay results in lower grades in school and being unable to concentrate based on the considerable amount of pain they experience on daily basis. The children are also at a higher risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or several other major health problems.

For the study, the research team visited 20 separate communities and analyzed the teeth of nearly 300 people. The patients were advised on the best way to treat their oral health problems.

The Indian Health Service conducted a study in 1999, but the numbers from this study indicated there were much higher rates of decay based on the comprehensive nature of this new study.