Native Youth Voice: Perspectives on Oral Health

The Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) is dedicated to improving the health, safety and overall well-being of Native American Youth through communication, policy development and advocacy. We consistently hear from young people that lack of dental care is a serious issue and top priority for them. According to data from the US Health Resources and Services Administration and Census Bureau, fifty percent of Native youth live in designated dental shortage areas. For more information click here.

As part of a collaborative initiative to address the dental care access needs of Native youth and their communities, CNAY is highlighting the voices of Native youth about access to dental care. Below is a Native youth’s perspective on this issue.


Lauren, 16, Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin

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Dental Care is a Basic Human Right: “Oral health is important in my community because it supports families in raising their children. It also allows the focus of life in the community to be about bettering it and not trying to obtain basic human rights.”

Dental Shortages: “I would like to see later clinic hours at the facilities in my community. This is not currently possible because of the shortage of dental providers in the area.”

Tribal Solutions: “Tribes should be able use creative methods to improve oral health including sustainable and efficient education programs.”

Community Dental Providers: “I think it would be extremely helpful to have dental providers from the community because they would be capable of assessing the needs of the community more efficiently and with greater care, from the perspective of other Natives.”

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