Northwest Tribal Dental Support Center


It is well documented that American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) carry a disproportionate burden of oral disease. According to the IHS 1999 Oral Health Survey, the majority of AI/AN children have tooth decay, most adults have lost teeth because of dental disease, periodontal disease is a significant problem for adults, and there is limited access to both preventive and restorative dental care. Profound health disparities exist between the oral health status of AI/ANs in the Pacific Northwest compared to non-AI/ANs in the same area.  These differences result from multiple etiologies, but one clearly identifiable factor is the loss of dental public health infrastructure by the Indian Health Service over the last decade.  The Indian Health Service (IHS) has made additional funds available to create dental support centers with the goal to improve the oral health of AI/AN people. The Northwest Tribal Dental Support Center (NTDSC) is currently in its twenty-first  year of operation.


The overall goals of the NTDSC are to provide training, quality improvement, and technical assistance to the 39 IHS/Tribal dental programs in the Portland Area, and to ensure that the services of the NTDSC result in measurable improvement in the oral health status of the AI/AN people served in the Portland Area. The objectives are to continue oral health assessment, ensure quality of care, Implement clinical and community-based prevention programs, and provide continuing dental education. Furthermore, NTDSC works closely with IHS and other dental support centers towards meeting national HP/DP objectives. The objectives of NTDSC are supported through ongoing communication with local dental programs via site visits, email groups, telephone consultation, and an annual Area-wide dental meeting.

Annual Dental Meeting

2022 Area Dental Meeting Materials Now Out! Info Below


The NTDSC is in its fourth five-year grant cycle (currently our 19th year).


During the first five-year grant cycle, the clinical consultant provided 70 site visits and the HP/DP consultant provided 69 site visits.  Satisfaction surveys were administered following each site visit during the past three years.  Survey responses were anonymous.  Overall satisfaction averaged 4.8 out of a possible score of 5.0 using a Likert Scale.  During the five-year period, the NTDSC increased the number of sealants placed Area-wide by 35%, and topical fluoride treatments for all age groups increased by 54%.  Access for infants increased by 16% and topical fluoride treatments for infants increased by 46%.  Overall dental access increased by 12% during the five-year grant cycle.

The accomplishments of the NTDSC in meeting our clinical and health promotion/disease prevention (HP/DP) objectives can be attributed to the fierce commitment of those dental providers in the Northwest who have worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve these objectives, adopting them as their own, and putting in the time and effort required to improve the oral health of the people they serve.


IHS Division of Oral HealthIMG_6477

“The Impact of Oral Disease on the Lives of Washingtonians”


Ticey Mason (Siletz), MAOL

NTDSC Project Director



Dr. Sean Kelly

Clinical Consultant

Dr. Miranda Davis

Prevention Consultant


Dr. Lynn Van Pelt

IHS Are Dental Consultant


2022 Area Dental Meeting, Squamish Clearwater Resort
Squamish, WA August 16-17

2019 Area Dental Meeting

2018 Area Dental Meeting, Tulalip Casino and Resort,
Tulalip, WA August 20-23, 2018