Tribal Oral Health Newsletter

Issue 18

🍁Fall 2023

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The Latest Quarterly News on Oral Health

from Across Indian Country

In This Issue

Top Stories

-Can Dental Therapists Provide More Dental Access? -Article Review

--Dental Health Aide Therapy Student Sponsorsship Funding is now open

Tribal Dental Therapy News

--Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Receives Extensive Dental Care from the Minnessota National Guard. 

--Dental Clinic Opens in Los Angeles County to Serve its Indigenous Community 

--Dental Therapy Equipment Funding Provided to Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Updates from Capitol Hill and the Administration

-Advance Appropriation Funding Could Increase in Dental Health for Native American Tribes through the Bureau of Indian Education. 

Oral Health Champion Spotlight

--Introducing This Issue's Oral Health Champion

Dr. Arthur Holleman !

The Latest in State Legislatures

--Nevada Bill To Require Tele-dentistry Training

--Massachusetts Bill Would Include Implementing Dental Therapists

Funding Opportunities

and Resources

--Join the American Dental Therapy Association for the 2023 Dental Therapy Conference 

--Scholarships Offered for Dental Therapy

Education in Michigan

--Join the Community Health Aide Program (CHAP) Advisory Group

Can Dental Therapist Provide More Dental Access?

-Article Review

Dental care access can be improved by implementing dental therapists in underserved communities.

Many Tribal communities have already established dental health aide therapists (DHATs) , and have shown success in decrease of cavities and dental emergencies.

A recent article discusses how dental therapists can provide more dental access,

click here !

Dental Health Aide Therapy Student Sponsorship Funding is Now Open

The National Indian Health Board Tribal Oral Health Initiative is pleased to offer an opportunity to support dental therapy education in the 2023-2024 academic year. NIHB invites Tribes, Tribal organizations, and health organizations sponsoring a dental therapy student to complete an application for NIHB's Dental Therapy Student Sponsorship FundEntities sponsoring more than one student should submit one complete application.

Six $10,000 awards are available to Tribal entities supporting enrolled or accepted dental therapy students to support tuition costs of a dental therapy education program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Support for additional expenses related to the student's dental therapy education may be considered. Student Sponsorship Fund applications are reviewed by a committee of public health professionals.

Applications are due by October 31, 2023, and recipients will be notified by November 30, 2023. Email applications to Dawn Landon at [email protected] with "Dental Therapy Student Sponsorship Fund Application" in the subject.

Click HERE to Apply!

Join NIHB's

Monthly Tribal Dental Therapy Meeting!

🍁Third Thursday of Every Month

🍁2:00 PM EDT

To be added to the invitation list, contact Dawn Landon, Program Associate -Tribal Oral Health Initiative- Public Health Policy and Programs at [email protected]

Want to Learn More About How Dental Therapy Benefits Tribes?

Tribal Dental Therapy 101 Toolkit
Dental Therapy and Tribal Oral Health Publications

Join the National Partnership for Dental Therapy in advocating for a solution to unmet oral health needs including dental therapy! The partnership is co-chaired by the National Indian Health Board, Community Catalyst, and National Coalition of Dentists for Health Equity.

Dental therapists are an invaluable resource to our oral health provider teams. Click here to learn how dental therapists can improve oral health in Tribal communities!

Click here for more information on how your Tribe or organization can endorse dental therapy.

Tribal Dental Therapy News

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Receives Extensive Dental Care from the Minnessota National Guard 

The Leek Lake Band of Ojibwe reservation welcomed members of the Minnesota National Guard 204th Medical Company Area Support participated in an Innovative Readiness Training, known as IRT, exercise known as Operation Walking Shield on July 21 through 28, 2023. 

Dentists and dental technicians were part of the two-week IRT along with medics, mechanics, generator mechanics, cooks and behavioral health technicians, which provided assistance and health care for Tribal members. Partners who helped to coordinate the mission included the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Cass Lake-Bena school, Indian Health Services, National Guard Bureau, and the U.S. Army Reserve 

More on this story click here 


Dental Clinic Opens in Los Angeles County to Serve its Indigenous Community 

The United American Indian Involvement (UAII) health center opened up their dental clinic which allows more access for oral health care for the estimated 140,000 Native Americans that live in Los Angeles County. 

Many members of the Tribal community have to travel up to 100 miles or to be referred to a local dentists, now the new dental clinic provides that access. The new clinic’s goals are to increase dental care which in turn, would help community members with diabetes or prevention of diabetes, which oral health care is tied in overall health of an individual. 

To Read More on the UAII Health Center

Dental Therapy Equipment Funding Provided to Saskatchewan Polytechnic. 

A two-year BSc in Dental Therapy program partnered between the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority (NITHA), the University of Saskatchewan’s (USask) College of Dentistry, Saskatchewan Polytechnic and Northlands College received $210,000 to Saskatchewan Polytechnic through its GreenShield Cares social impact program. 

The donation will assist in purchasing key equipment to support community outreach. This includes, portable dental chairs, a portable X-ray unit and digital X-ray sensors to support oral health care in remote locations and Indigenous communities across the province. 

Click to Read More 

What is the Status of Dental Therapy In My State?

Use the National Indian Health Board's state legislative tracker to learn more about dental therapy legislation in your state and how you can help make access to oral health care a reality for the Tribes!

Updates from Capitol Hill and the Administration

Advance Appropriation Funding Could Increase in Dental Health for Native American Tribes through the Bureau of Indian Education. 

July 27, 2023, the Senate Appropriations Committee completed the markup of the Fiscal Year (FY) 24 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies bill. The bill passed out of committee with a vote of 28-0 and will advance to the Senate floor for initial passage. The bill authorizes $7.27 billion for IHS— an increase of $218.6 million from FY23 but $2.68 billion below the President’s request.  

The FY24 budget also includes $92.4 million for Urban Indian health, which is $2 million above the FY23 enacted levels but $22.7 million under the House recommended amount and President Biden’s Request. Advance appropriations for IHS was maintained for FY25 and received an increase to $5.22 billion from $5.12 billion for FY24. 

March 9, 2023, President Biden released his budget request for FY24 which included $9.7 billion for IHS and proposed mandatory funding for IHS from FY 2025 to FY 2033 to the amount of $288 billion over-ten years as well as exempting IHS from sequestration. This mandatory formula would culminate in $44 billion for IHS in FY 2033, to account for inflation, staffing increases, long-COVID treatment, and construction costs.

This move from discretionary to mandatory funding is essential as noted in the IHS Congressional Justification, “While the progress achieved through the enactment of advance appropriations will have a lasting impact on Indian Country, funding growth beyond what can be accomplished through discretionary spending is needed to fulfill the federal government’s commitments to Indian Country.” On March 17, 2023, IHS published their Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Congressional Justification with the full details of the President’s Budget, which includes $115 million for urban Indian health – a 27% increase above the FY 2023 enacted amount of $90.42 million. 

On July 18, 2023, the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee advanced the FY24 Interior Appropriations bill with $7.079 billion for IHS, an increase in FY25 advance appropriations for IHS to $5.8 billion, and $115.15 million for urban Indian health. 

Appropriations increase for:


Dental Health: $254.7 million 

  • Bill Report pg. 122, “The recommendation includes $254,729,000 for dental health, an increase of $6,631,000 above the enacted level. The Service is encouraged to coordinate with the Bureau of Indian Education [BIE] to integrate preventive dental care at schools within the BIE system.” 


For more information on the Advance Appropriations Funding click here. 

Oral Health Champion's Corner

This Issue’s Oral Health Champion is

Dr. Arthur Holleman(Muscogee Creek)

- Indian Health Care Resource Center of Tulsa

  Dr. Arthur Holleman is the Dental Director and has worked at Indian Health Care Resource Center of Tulsa (IHCRC) for 13 years. In addition to a busy schedule of seeing patients, he manages all aspects of the Dental Department. 

In 2019, Dr. Holleman set a goal of earning the Dental Home accreditation at our 2022 AAAHC site visit. Dr. Holleman’s team includes Dr. Akberali, Dentist; Lindsay Sottong, Hygienist; Alisha Burrows, Christie Davis-Spencer, Annette Williams, and Lisa Young, Dental Assistants.

The Dental Department is a hard-working group, producing over 4,200 visits in 2022. As mentioned above, Dr. Holleman has served the clinic for 13 years. IHCRC is an ambulatory medical clinic that serves 14,000 Native patients each year. 

Dr. Holleman took on the challenge of preparing for the Dental Home accreditation. As the Dental Director, he executed three Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) studies, while Dr. Akberali and Ms. Sottong each did one study. These exemplary studies met the qualifications for the Dental Home Accreditation.

Dr. Holleman also prepared all required policies and procedures as needed for the Accreditation. Additionally, the Dental Department conducted a patient satisfaction survey, regarding patient-centered, dentist-directed care, comprehensive, accessible, and continuous dental care.

The results of the survey were outstanding, demonstrating a high level of patient satisfaction. The results of one question noted that 98% of respondents could identify the “dental home team and provider”.

The surveyor’s report stated that “This Dental Home has far surpassed other Dental Home surveys conducted by this surveyor in almost every standard including the CQI component”.

The surveyor went on to say that all five studies were worthy of the Bernie Kershner Quality Improvement award consideration. Achieving Dental Home helps meet the IHS mission by improving the quality of service and access to care for our patients. 

The excellent work of Dr. Holleman and the Dental Department accomplished the goal of being accredited as a Dental Home. This award demonstrated our commitment to outstanding, evidence-based practice in our Dental care. This accreditation reassures our patients that they are receiving the best care possible. 


Thanks for keeping Indian Country smiling, Dr.Holleman !

The Latest from State Legislatures

Nevada Bill To Require Tele-Dentistry Training

Nevada- NV AB147 if passed, will

Require dental hygienists and dental therapists to comply with certain requirements governing the provision of health care; requiring providers of dental care to receive training on tele-dentistry before providing services through tele-dentistry. 

Massachusetts Bill Would Include Implementing Dental Therapists

Massachuetts- Massachusetts HD111/SD747 

the Act to Improve Oral Health for All Massachusetts Residents, which would enable the licensure of dental therapists in the state but will require a master's degree in dental hygiene.

Funding Opportunities and Resources

Join the American Dental Therapy Association for the 2023 Dental Therapy Conference 

The American Dental Therapy Association(ADTA) will be hosting its 2023 Dental Therapy Conference October 5-7, 2023, at the Renaissance Waterford located at 6300 Waterford Boulevard in Oklahoma City. 

Founded in 2006, the American Dental Therapy Association (ADTA) is the national professional society for dental therapists. Each year, ADTA supports dental therapists in providing vital oral health care to hundreds of thousands of Americans. We educate the public about the value of dental therapists, create educational and career advancement opportunities for dental therapists, and support educational institutions in developing superior dental therapy programs. 

ADTA advocates and educates on behalf of the profession and the patients dental therapists serve. We have members nationwide who are committed to helping us promote policies that ensure recognition of dental therapists as an essential part of improving the quality, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness of oral health for all Americans.

The American Dental Therapy Association Alliance engages dental therapists and our allies on pressing oral health care equity issues and provides information on how to get involved with our mission of advancing oral health care equity. 

Click here to Register

Scholarships Offered for Dental Therapy

 Education in Michigan

The Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA), in partnership with the Delta Dental Foundation (DDF) and the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, is offering a $15,000 scholarship to qualified candidates that want to pursue their education and become a licensed dental therapist. 

Dental therapists are licensed providers that work under the remote supervision of a dentist to provide routine oral health care to patients in medically underserved areas. This includes oral health assessments, cleanings, basic restorations, and some extractions. They are a valuable addition to the oral health care team and will increase access to care in the communities they serve.


More about the scholarship and questions email: Misty Davis, Oral Health Program Manager.

Join the Community Health Aide Program (CHAP) Advisory Group

Join the Community Health Aide Program (CHAP) Advisory Group's next meeting.

Meeting Link

2023 IHS Continuing Dental Education Catalog 

The Indian Health Service Division of Oral Health offers several webinars and in-person trainings for Continuing Dental Education for dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants year-round.

View the 2023 course catalog here. 

Sign Up For NIHB Newsletters!

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For media inquiries, contact Ned Johnson at: [email protected]