Native News Network Staff in Native Health. Discussion »
TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA A Cherokee Nation dentist is being featured in a national Indian Health Services video. Dr. Mechelle Speed was chosen for her innovative early childhood dentistry program that has helped lower the cavity rate among preschoolers.
Dr. Mechelle Speed paints Fluoride on a young Cherokee dental patient
“This is a very big honor for the Cherokee Nation,”Speed said.
“We not only want to meet the standard, but we also want to set the standard.”
A film crew from the IHS office in Albuquerque, New Mexico arrived in Tahlequah on November 16 to film Dr. Speed and the popular fluoride varnish program she helped design for the Cherokee Nation. IHS officials hope featuring Speed's program as a model for other tribes will shine a light on the importance of using fluoride varnish three to four times a year to diminish the cavity rate among young children. IHS says the Cherokee Nation&339;s cavity rate is lower than the national average for preschool-aged children as a result of Speed's program.
“Dr. Mechelle Speed has been working with the Head Start program for some time now. Her fluoride varnish program is one of the most successful in the nation, so we look at her work as a model for what other IHS and tribal programs can accomplish with their children,”
said Dr. Timothy L. Ricks, IHS co-chair for the Early Childhood Caries Collaborative, which is producing the video.
The video is one of four being produced by IHS and will be shown in IHS facilities nationwide. The three other videos feature other health concerns facing Native Americans and recommended treatments.
Speed's work to prevent childhood cavities also earned her recognition locally as the Child Advocate of the Year by the Cherokee Nation Early Childhood Unit. The group recognized her for her cavity prevention work with children in the Cherokee Nation Head Start program. Principal Chief Bill John Baker presented the award to Speed at a gala on November 20, thanking her for her efforts.
posted December 3, 2012 6:57 am est