Montana tribal members declare state of emergency for dental care

The Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes in Montana recently declared a state of emergency due to a lack of dental care, according to a July 22 Billings Gazette article.

The Tribal Executive Board made the declaration to create a conversation with the Indian Health Service, which provides healthcare to tribal members. The goal is to bring more dental professionals into Poplar and Wolf Point, Mont., so tribal members will have more access to care.

A 2020 report by Montana's Department of Public Health and Human Services found that a majority of state counties lack dentists. Within the state's Native American community, the report found that nearly 85 percent of children suffer from tooth decay, compared to about 57 percent of white children in the state. Additionally, A 2016 community health assessment conducted by the Tribal Health Department found that one-third of high school students had not visited a dentist in more than a year.

According to the article, the IHS has less than 10 dentists for the more than 10,000 people living on the 3,200-square-mile reservation.

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