Southwest Indian Relief Council
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A Program of PWNA


Success Stories

 Smiles for Stockings

Although the Indian Health Service (I.H.S.) provides dental services on most reservations, I.H.S. lacks sufficient resources to meet the treatment needs of 1.8 million American Indians living on or near reservations. IHS employs over 300 dentists, but reports a vacancy rate of 24%. Barriers to accessing care also include lack of health insurance since American Indians are 2 to 3 times as likely to be uninsured as whites. (source: Children’s Dental Health Project)


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Smiles abounded at each event.

On the San Carlos Indian Reservation in Arizona, the dental clinic took the festive holiday as an opportunity to build relationships with young Head Start students out of their “dental chairs.” The San Carlos Dental department was one of 46 Partners serving youth in the Southwest to receive the Christmas stockings.

The Southwest Indian Relief Council (SWIRC) Program’s Christmas service distributed over 10,000 holiday stockings to Native American youth living on Indian Reservations in the Southwest again this past holiday. Our staff happily visited with many of the Program Partners who received stockings. Smiles abounded at each event.

The San Carlos Dental department determined early on that the SWIRC Christmas stockings would be a good way for young children who may be fearful of the dental staff to get to know them outside of their normal offices with a Stocking bonus at the end!

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The staff was equipped with an oversized toothbrush and a big set of teeth.

The dental clinic received just over 230 stockings for them to conduct outreach visits to Head Start children at preschools in several different communities on the reservation. The staff was equipped with the stockings, as well as an oversized toothbrush and a big set of teeth.

The staff used circle time to gather up the children and provide some fun education on oral health care. Being responsible for your teeth at an early age is extremely important, particularly with American Indian youth.

Tiffany and Tera, the dental clinic employees, were very good at their jobs. They were able to keep the children engaged during the presentation and explained how the fluoride varnish would be “painted” on their teeth.

The children were patient and there was only one who appeared to be more interested in the stockings than the painting and refused their treatment.

Once each child was completed with the varnish, they received their stocking. Many of the kids were a little pre-occupied with the sticky stuff on their teeth, but managed a big smile for the staff and the camera when it was their turn.

Our heart-felt appreciation goes out to the caring Program Partners and generous donors who help make this service possible. Not only did each child receive a gift-filled stocking, but they learned some valuable lessons about dental health.

Hope Child

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