In this health video learn about the dental care of the the people from Nome Alaska.
Read the full transcript »
Female Speaker: This is Nome, Alaska: population 3,500. When Nomites are in need of a dentist, the majority come here. Dr. Mark Kelso: Our rate of decay is much higher than the national average. Female Speaker: Doctor Mark Kelso has been the Dental Director in Nome for 15 years. Dr. Mark Kelso: It's not unusual for me to encounter a teenager with 20 or more decayed teeth not unusual at all. There is sometimes to the point where they need dentures and that's the only reasonable treatment left. Female Speaker: How could a child's teeth go so bad so early? Doctor Kelso says it's a combination of factors from too many sweets and too little brushing, to apathy. Dr. Mark Kelso: When a most concerned about is her brushing or more correctly her lack of brushing. I guess you have great teeth, Iris, but you're not keeping them clean. How come? Iris: I'm starting to brush my teeth now. Dr. Mark Kelso: Starting to brush your teeth? Like every morning and night? Dr. Mark Kelso: Not having teeth, it doesn't seem to carry a social stigma like it might if you lived in an urban area in the lower 48 simply because a lot of people are missing teeth. That becomes normal in that community. Female Speaker: But it's not "normal" for the Piscoya kids. They're lucky to have a mom who insists they care for their teeth in a community that historically hasn't. Annette Piscoya: They're pretty good at it now. Especially Andy, he usually at nighttime before he goes to bed, he brushes his teeth because I bought him a little racing Crest car automatic toothbrush for Christmas. And after they brush their teeth especially the younger ones, they have to come and show me their teeth and if they didn't brush their teeth good enough, they have to go back and re-brush them. Female Speaker: And mom's diligence seems to be paying off. Fifteen-year old Benny has never had a cavity a sizeable feat in a town where so many kids his age have already had one or more adult teeth pulled due to decay. Benny Piscoya: I like my teeth because I know I can't chew with gums. Female Speaker: Especially this food. Annette Piscoya: The stuff we eat is hard sometimes, like the dried fish, you need to have teeth to have, to eat dried fish and dried meat. Female Speaker: In fact, Doctor Kelso attributes the Piscoya's healthy teeth, in part, to the food on their table. Dr. Mark Kelso: The traditional cultural diet used to be a lot of substances use in that you gathered berries and plants and you ate dried meat and that kind of thing with that type of diet, the incident of tooth decay is almost non-existent, but after the adoption of Western food styles, comes an increase in tooth decay. Female Speaker: Cooper is the cook of the family. He makes it a point to serve mostly traditional foods, and very few sweets. Tonight's menu? Cooper Piscoya: Eskimo name is called ugruk, it's a bearded seal. We hunt it every spring and has it's own unique smell to it, but it's, it's delicious, the kids like it. Andy Piscoya: Are you going to come outside? Female Speaker: Unfortunately, when it comes to healthy teeth in this part of Alaska, the Piscoya family is the exception, not the rule.