Your mouth speaks for your health. But not everyone has access to dental care. That’s true in communities worldwide and close to home in places like the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
Your generous gifts are helping Advance partner with a Jesuit mission that runs a dental clinic on the reservation. They depend on volunteer dentists. Thanks to you, we sent a team from the ATSU School of Dentistry and Oral Health in Arizona to the Rosebud four times this spring.
That help came just in time for hundreds of Lakota tribe members.
Overall health at risk
At least 90% of people on the Rosebud have chronic tooth decay or gum disease. Indian Health Service can’t keep up. The closest dental clinic, if people can afford it, is three hours away.
Lack of access to dental care can have a profound impact on your overall health. Tooth decay and gum disease are linked to other health concerns such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. In pregnant women, gum disease can lead to premature birth and low birth weight.
Children have extra concerns. Poor dental health can affect speech development. It can cause poor nutrition, digestive problems, and stunt growth. Plus, children with dental issues tend to miss more school days and get lower grades, limiting what they can achieve later in life.
But you’re working to change that!
Your growing impact
So far, you’ve helped us treat 244 people on the Rosebud. We prioritized adults who needed root canals, dentures, and crowns, as well as pediatric care.
One young girl’s story stands out. On the last day, we treated a family of seven, including 15-year-old Tessa.
She was in so much pain, with 12 permanent teeth decayed beyond saving. We asked her what she had been eating with that much pain. Her answer? Just Gatorade and tea.
We were able to extract five of the most damaged teeth that day and give her a referral to a dentist outside the reservation. But it’s unlikely her family can afford the multiple trips that Tessa will need.
In talking about the depth of need on the reservation, our volunteer dental team kept saying the same word: humbling. Many of them vowed to donate their time and talents to us again.
With your steadfast support, we can send more dental teams to the Rosebud. And give people like Tessa the healthy and hopeful future they deserve.