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Swinomish Indian Tribal Community adds first dental therapist to meet dental care needs

Members of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community in Washington State have positive news to smile about—the hiring of their first dental therapist.

The Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB) recently announced the Swinomish hired Daniel B. Kennedy to provide tribal members with much-needed dental care. The Swinomish is a leader for the growing movement across the U.S. to utilize dental therapists to reverse the oral health disparities that have plagued Native children for far too long.

Sovereign tribal nations have both the right and the responsibility to attend to the health and wellbeing of their members. We deeply appreciate the courage, perseverance and leadership of Chairman Brian Cladoosby and the Swinomish community to address the backlog of untreated tooth decay and prevent yet another generation of Native American children from growing up with dental pain and inadequate dental services.

Mid-level dental providers have been providing much-needed dental care in Alaska, in Minnesota, in more than 50 other countries, and now in the Swinomish in Indian Country.

What a privilege it is to stand with many dentists, dental hygienists and other oral health professionals; tribal and community leaders; nonprofit oral health groups; and state oral health coalitions to support and celebrate a future where dental care is no longer the number one chronic illness among children in the U.S. 

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