Eastern Aleutian Tribes’ Dental Program provides services in all of our communities. Services provided include examinations, emergency treatment, preventative services (cleanings, sealants, and fluoride application), extractions, root canals, full and partial dentures, crowns, and bridges. Eastern Aleutian Tribes is among the first regional corporations to provide complete dental services to all their community members regardless of ability to pay. In the past, dental services were only available when a dentist from Southcentral Foundation flew to some of the villages to conduct a dental clinic, often only once a year, and only for I.H.S. beneficiaries or only for children. If the weather turned bad, the schedule would be completely disrupted. Long term lack of access to professional dental care has been a major contributor to Alaska Natives having the highest rate of tooth decay of any population group in the nation. Tooth decay and gum disease has been linked to prenatal issues, diabetes, and heart disease.
EAT has a dentist, working six weeks on and three weeks off along with two dental health aide therapists (DHAT) to serve our region. Dr. Michael Costa, Ben Steward DHAT, Erik Linduska DHAT, Gabby Costa and Kathy Bear, Dental Assistants, make up our Dental Team. Ben Steward DHAT, Gabby Costa, and Kathy Bear also work a schedule of six weeks on and three weeks off. Erik Linduska DHAT works during his breaks as he is in the process of applying to Dental School.
Our Dentist, Dr. Michael Costa, served as Director of La Clinica’s dental program in Medford, Oregon for seven years, and was a registered nurse for 15 years prior to that position. He earned his DDS degree from the Loma Linda University School of Dentistry. Dr. Costa can diagnose and treat dental diseases, fill teeth, make crowns, perform root canals, remove teeth, and perform surgical procedures.
Ben Steward DHAT joined the Dental Team in November of 2014 after working for five years with the Tok Clinic. Prior to becoming a Dental Health Aide Therapist (DHAT), Ben was a CHA graduating in 2003 for Chugachmiut and lived in Port Graham until 2005. Ben then worked for APIA until 2007 obtaining the title of CHA III. He enrolled in the DENTEX Program in 2007 and graduated in 2009. Erik Linduska DHAT enrolled in the DENTEX Program in 2008 and graduated in 2010 and has been with Eastern Aleutian Tribes since graduating. Both Ben Steward DHAT and Erik Linduska DHAT provide preventative services, raise awareness about proper dental care, and provide exams, cleanings, sealants, fillings, and simple extractions. Thanks to this team of dedicated professionals, each of our communities is assured of qualified, excellent care.
Shonna Wheeler is currently in Bethel attending the second year of the Dental Health Aide Therapist program. After Shonna graduates from the DHAT program, Dr. Costa will work with her in obtaining her Dental Health Aide Therapist Certification. We look forward to having Shonna as a provider on our Dental Team.