Promising directions for caries prevention with American Indian and Alaska Native children

Authors

  • Judith E N Albino,

    Corresponding author
    1. Departments of Community and Behavioral Health, Colorado School of Public Health, and Oral and Craniofacial Biology
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  • Valerie A Orlando

    1. Departments of Community and Behavioral Health, Colorado School of Public Health, and Oral and Craniofacial Biology
    2. Department of Surgical Dentistry: School of Dental Medicine, University of Colorado Denver, USA.
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President Emerita, Professor, and Director, Center for Native Oral Health Research, Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health, Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado Denver, Mail Stop F800, Room 350, Nighthorse Campbell Native Health Building, 13055 E. 17th Avenue — Room 350, Aurora, CO 80045, USA. Email: judith.albino@ucdenver.edu

Abstract

Profound and consequential disparities in oral health persist for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Decades of epidemiological studies have documented rates of early childhood caries (ECC) among American Indian children that are more than six times higher than those for white children, and three times higher than the rates for the general US population. While there is alarming need among this population, and there is clear evidence that dental caries can be prevented, successful programmes for prevention are rare. This report will review caries trends among American Indian children and describe promising approaches that take into account culturally defined responses of AI/AN tribes and communities. The work of the Center for Oral Health Disparities will be described, with its emphasis on community and behavioral strategies that have proven successful for working with AI/AN populations in areas of other health needs.

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