A study examining the oral health of members of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota finds that many Oglala Lakota people are missing teeth and suffering from periodontal disease.
The Colorado-based Center for Native Oral Health Research examined 292 adults and children for a report released Wednesday. Half of the adults screened had 27 or fewer teeth. A typical adult has between 28 and 32 teeth, depending on whether they still have their wisdom teeth.
The study also finds that many members have decaying teeth and too few have proper fillings to help combat cavities.
Study organizers say the dental issues facing Oglala Lakota people are tied to low incomes as nearly half of Pine Ridge people live below the poverty line.