Marty Jones, RDH, is a Dental Hygienist who is becoming a familiar face at St. Francis Mission. Currently working under a grant from Delta Dental Program called Circle of Smiles; she is currently helping to facilitate St. Francis Mission’s Dental Clinic. We sat down with her to learn about what she does – both at St. Francis Mission and as part of Circle of Smiles.
Could you tell us about your work at St. Francis Mission?
I’m not a Mission employee, though St. Francis Mission was gracious enough to supply me with office space at the Dental Clinic. I work under a grant from Delta Dental called Circle of Smiles. As part of that work, I am helping to facilitate the Mission’s Dental Clinic. That includes evaluating the clinical equipment, ensuring that the documentation to support the clinic is correct, to develop patient charting procedures and general clinic administration. I have a great passion for bringing dental care to the Rosebud, and for keeping the momentum of the Clinic moving forward. My goal is to marry Delta Dental’s Circle of Smiles program with the Mission’s Dental Clinic program to bring greater dental care to the Rosebud.
Can you tell us a bit more about Circle of Smiles?
Circle of Smiles’ is a program from Delta Dental of South Dakota funded through a Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services Health Care Innovation Award. The goal is to improve the oral health status of American Indians living on South Dakota’s nine Indian reservations, including (but not limited to) Rosebud. The populations being served by the program are children age 0-9, their mothers, pregnant women, and people with diabetes. We focus on reducing the oral health gap by growing both access to and understanding of preventative dental care. Myself, and the other hygienists located on other reservations go into community settings without a dentist and provide preventive services including cleanings, sealants, and fluoride varnishes.
What is the current state of dental health on the Rosebud?
At the moment, the approach to oral health on South Dakota reservations is focusing on immediate needs rather than prevention – most people come into a dental clinic, identify a problem tooth or teeth, and most often the tooth is then pulled because it has progressed beyond needing a filling. Some IHS service units, including Rosebud, have been working with schools and head starts to expand preventive services, but the amount of restorative cases prevents the limited amount of staff from expanding prevention efforts to ideal levels. Preschool children on South Dakota reservations have one of the highest rates of tooth decay in the country. The problem is so bad that it has been estimated that the rate of decay in children in certain reservation communities could be 100 times (10,000%) higher than the general population. With the Mission and Circle of Smiles working together, we can help change that – both by providing dental care services, but also by providing education on oral health. Things like teaching home care, diet, and what services a dental clinic can offer patients can go a long way to changing the problem.
What made you interested in working on the Rosebud?
I’m originally from the Rosebud and am an enrolled tribal member. I worked for IHS for 13 years, and became a dental hygienist at 30. After that I did private sector work for many years. I moved back to the Reservation in November when I became involved with Circle of Smiles. I look forward to continuing to help bring access to dental care to Rosebud.
If you’d like to help Marty and St. Francis Mission continue to bring quality dental care to the Rosebud, consider a donation! If you are a practicing dentist or dental student, and are interested in helping out, you can also contact us at (605) 747-2142.