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    Why Are Native American Children Suffering From Tooth Decay?

    Studies have shown that Native Americans did not have tooth decay until being introduced to a modern diet.

    A startling report was released earlier this year that showed Native American children in the U.S. and Canada have a higher rate of tooth decay than other children. The researchers compiled data from 2,633 Native American children that were between the ages of two and five. The findings showed that 68 percent of children had cavities, and in some areas, the rate of tooth decay in children was as high as 90 percent. While statements released by physician’s claim this high rate of tooth decay is caused by a lack of proper hygiene and not receiving routine dental care, this is far from the truth.

    Weston Price conducted studies of Native American tribes in the 1930’s. He found that the people in the tribes had no signs of tooth decay, and the shape of their dental arches and the form of their facial features was excellent. During this time, the Native Americans did not use fluoride, tooth brushes or tooth paste to clean their teeth, yet they still had teeth that were free from decay and cavities. So, it makes little sense to assume that the high tooth decay rates in children today are a result of a lack of dental hygiene. When we take into account the foods that Native Americans ate then and what they eat today, we can see the real truth behind the cause of tooth decay and cavities.

    Native Americans ate natural foods, and the only way they were able to acquire foods was through hunting, fishing and farming. They mainly consumed a diet high in meats, especially buffalo, deer and rabbit.  Depending upon the location of the tribe, they also consumed wild rice, salmon, clams, poultry, and some vegetables. The Native Americans did not believe in wasting food, so every part of an animal was either consumed or used for other purposes. The organs of grass-fed land animals are very high in nutrients, and we can assume the Native Americans most likely made use of the organs by eating these, as well. This type of diet is high in fat-soluble vitamins and other nutrients that the body needs to create strong, healthy teeth.

    When the Europeans arrived, the diets of the Native Americans changed drastically. The Native Americans were introduced to wheat and other foods that contributed to poor dental health. As Weston Price discovered in his studies, tooth decay in Native American tribes became severe after they began eating a “white man’s diet.” Today, many Native Americans consume modern foods just as other people do. With an increased consumption of processed and sugary foods, the rate of tooth decay rises. Based on these studies, we can safely conclude that the reason why so many Native American children are now suffering from tooth decay, when their ancestors clearly did not, is a result of the type of diet they consume, not from a lack of dental care or dental hygiene.



    Selected quotes by Dr. Stanley Bass. Weston Price. About Tooth Decay and Diet. Retrieved from:

    Dallas, Mary. Native American Children Have More Tooth Decay.May 30, 2011. Retrieved from:

    Photo Credit: Edward S. Curtis from Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

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