Find Out How You Can Save Smiles Across Indian Country!

Posted By Toyacoyah Brown January 10th, 2016 Last Updated on: January 10th, 2016

Photography by Roshan Spotsville

Photography by Roshan Spotsville

Miss Native American USA 2015-16, Kristina Hyatt and America's ToothFairy: National Children's Oral Health Foundation ® will combine efforts to reach out to as many Native American children across the United States through the America's Tooth Fairy Smile Drive starting February 2016. This Smile Drive project will focus on saving young smiles across Indian Country, which coincides with National Children's Dental Health Month in February. MNAUSA and America's ToothFairy will be collecting toothbrushes, toothpaste and other oral health care products for American Indian children.

Pediatric dental disease, although preventable, is the number one chronic childhood disease in the United States. According to the Indian Health Service (IHS), American Indian and Alaska Native preschoolers have the highest levels of tooth decay in the US. By grade three (3rd grade), 91% of American Indian and Alaskan Native children have experienced tooth decay and 72% have unfilled cavities. Left untreated, tooth decay can cause severe pain, embarrassment, life-threatening infections and even death.

MNAUSA will begin her tour across the US, with your support, to visit as many American Indian Reservations to speak on the importance of oral health starting with the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota on February 21, 2016. Forty percent of children on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation suffer from moderate to urgent dental needs, including infections and other problems that could be life-threatening according to W.K. Kellogg Foundation. MNAUSA, true to her platform, will begin her tour, presenting oral health care kits and presentations with the help of America's ToothFairy and her local Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians community in North Carolina. The first stop will be in South Dakota, visiting Pine Ridge and surrounding American Indian communities. We do need your support, the Miss Native American USA Organization and MNAUSA Kristina have set up a donation site to help with the cost of traveling across our great nation to visit as many reservations starting the end of February leading up to the fall season. You can find the donation link at https://www.youcaring.com/native-american-children-494358#.VoLlpIBgbas.email.

Currently, America's ToothFairy and MNAUSA are also seeking volunteers to host local Smile Drives benefiting Native American children as well as donations for the Toothbrush Fund. To register or to donate, visit America's ToothFairy webpage: http://www.ncohf.org/get-involved/smile-drive/smiledrive_nachildren. In February of 2015, MNAUSA hosted her first Smile Drive with America's ToothFairy in Cherokee, North Carolina where more than 5,000 oral care products were collected and donated to local youth centers.

Kristina Hyatt, the current reigning Miss Native American USA 2015-16 is from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians from Cherokee, North Carolina. Hyatt, a dental hygienist is a graduate from Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and currently works as a dental hygienist at the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Children's Dental Program. Hyatt is also a graduate of the University of North Carolina Asheville with a bachelors degree in Business management. “We have our differences when it comes to our cultures and traditions, but one thing we all have in common, is that the most beautiful thing we can wear is our smile.” – K.Hyatt

Formed in 2006 in North Carolina, America's ToothFairy: National Children’s Oral Health Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness of one of the most prevalent chronic childhood illnesses: Pediatric dental disease, facilitating the delivery of comprehensive oral health services and improving quality of life for under-served children. Through the #MySmileMatters Youth Movement, collaborative partnerships with a diverse of array of national service organizations, growing network of non-profit clinical partners, dedicated professionals and student volunteers, and suite of high-impact community education and service programs, America's ToothFairy is building a powerful, united effort to eliminate tooth decay, and protect the smiles of vulnerable children.

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About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

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