The Sad Reality of the Dental Health of Aboriginals

Indigenous Americans have poorer dental health as compared to the rest of the people on the continent. This comes as no surprise, as the native communities are not as exposed to modern heath care as the rest of the country. Some of the most common dental health concerns that plague the Pearly Whytes of the aboriginal community are dental caries, missing teeth, and periodontal disease. While they are normally treatable conditions, they can become quite complicated if left unattended for long.

A report released by the Centre for Native American Youth found that dental health care had not changed much in the last ten years; with 70 percent of pre-school children having cases of untreated teeth decay. The early onset of decay means that they go into adulthood with this condition without the likelihood of having it treated. Quite unfortunately, most of the Native Americans still lack access to proper medical care to this day.

Common Dental Concerns among Aboriginals:

  • Caries

Dental caries also dental decay is the most common among aboriginals. The leading cause of tooth decay is the exposure of teeth to sweet and sticky foods without proper brushing to remove the food particles. The food particles cause decay on the enamel, which can be reversed with appropriate and immediate dental care. If the tooth is left without care for long, dental caries becomes untreatable and may result in even further complications involved inflamed pulp. Once the dental pulp becomes infected, the only choice left for the patient is to have their teeth filled or restored with dental crowns.

  • Periodontal Disease

The attribute of this disease is poor dental hygiene. When there is a build-up of bacteria in the mouth, they could cause a condition called gingivitis. Gingivitis presents in the form of inflamed, bleeding gums. It is quite mild and completely treatable if action is taken early enough. If no action is taken, it could escalate to periodontitis, which is quite severe and destructive. It is also almost impossible to treat as it eats into the tissue holding the teeth. The aftermath of periodontitis is spaced teeth and loss of bone that supports teeth. Eventually, a person suffering from periodontitis may lose some or all their teeth. It also causes the person to have perennial bad breath.

Health complications that arise from poor dental health:

There is more to dental health than a beautiful smile. If some of the seemingly simple issues are not tackled at their early stages, they exacerbate quite fast into health concerns that cannot be reversed. The Aboriginals have for the longest time, been disadvantaged in this area and are therefore highly exposed to these health risks.

Some of the serious health issues that can result from poor dental health include;

  • Heart disease

Unchecked periodontal disease can lead to heart disease. What happens, in this case, is that the bacteria from the gums get into the heart arteries and cause them to harden. Atherosclerosis (the hardening of the arteries) causes the arteries to thicken to a point where they can no longer transport blood with ease. It is a known fact that heart disease can be fatal.

  • Dementia

Poor dental hygiene leads to a build-up of bacteria, which leads to gingivitis. If left uncontrolled, the bacteria that cause gingivitis multiplies very fast and could enter the brain through the bloodstream. The bacteria are also known to cause Alzheimer’s disease. Traditionally, Alzheimer’s disease affects people in their sunset years. However, the affected aboriginals feel the blunt of this condition sooner.

  • Respiratory infections

respiratoryThe connection pneumonia and lung infection to dental health is not obvious at first. However, breathing in bacteria-infested breath for long could lead to infection of the vital organs.
It is quite sad that a fraction of the people in the most powerful nation on Earth is still marginalized in health care. There is more to be done to ensure that every person, regardless of age or race has access to basic dental health care. It is in this regard that First Nations Health Authority has partnered with the Ministry of Health to launch the Healthy Smiles for Life campaign that is geared towards giving aboriginal people a chance, not only to smile and show off their pearly whites for life but to also avert some of the more severe health concerns.

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