Vital Signs

Affiliation agreement with UNMC College of Dentistry expands dental care for Omaha Tribe

An affiliation agreement between the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of DentistryAn affiliation agreement between the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry will enhance dental services on the northeast Nebraska Indian reservation.

The agreement allows pediatric and adult dentistry residents, dental assistants and faculty from the UNMC College of Dentistry to provide services at the Carl T. Curtis Health Education Center in Macy, Neb.

On Dec. 5, four pediatric dental residents and four dental assistants will help provide care for more than 70 children in what will be a monthly rotation until all of the children in the tribe have been screened at least once and their dental needs evaluated.

“Once we have a true understanding of what the needs are there we can determine how often the residents will need to travel to Macy to help provide services,” said Don Herbst, business operations manager with the UNMC College of Dentistry Pediatric Dental Clinic.

The additional services are funded through two five-year grants totaling $3.5 million from the Health Resources Services Administration, a division of the National Institutes of Health.

Through the grant more senior dental students and pediatric residents will be sent to communities in need.

“Approximately one-third of the children between the ages of three and five screened at the dental clinic so far will require general anesthesia for their dental work due to their young age and severity of tooth decay,” said Stephanie Lake, D.D.S., dental director for the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska.

Dr. Lake said the additional assistance of the residents from the UNMC College of Dentistry will help immeasurably in providing care to these children.

Children with more severe cases will be referred to the pediatric clinic in Omaha and treated at UNMC, Herbst said.

“Dental health is a major need and concern, especially among our children. This affiliation marks the beginning of an exciting opportunity to increase oral health awareness among all tribal members,” said Amen Sheridan, Omaha Tribal Chairman.

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