Dental Health and Diagnosis
Oral care is a vital part of providing comprehensive care to all patients. However, the relationship of oral health to the overall health of patients is often overlooked. Factors such as age, economic status, low education and literacy, the existence of mental or physical handicaps, and ethnicity all contribute to risk for dental caries and periodontal disease. Consequently, what amounts to “a silent epidemic” of oral diseases is affecting the most vulnerable citizens: poor children, the elderly, and many members of racial and ethnic minority groups (Bodenheimer, Wagner, Grumbach, 2002. Improving primary care for patients with chronic illness: The chronic care model. JAMA; 288(14): 1775-1779; (15): 1909-1915).
General dentists provide three main reasons for routine care: 1) prevention and treatment of peridontists (also known as periodontal disease and commonly referred to by the public as gum disease; 2) prevention and treatment of dental caries (cavities); and 3) assessment of oral pathology.
Dental Health Interventions
The importance of early detection of oral disease can not be overstated. In addition, the incorporation of a visual examination of the oral structures by any health care provider can help patients tremendously. The presence of white spot lesions, broken teeth, oral pain, swelling, and bad breath can all indicate the presence of dental disease and mandate a referral to a dentist.
Keys to a successful program of prevention : 1) Stress the importance of oral hygiene and the importance of establishing a dental home, a regular place where oral care is received, especially among children. 2) Educate parents and health care providers that oral health is a key to overall health. 3) Provide nutrition counseling to prevent caries As caries-preventive measures. 4) Use fluoride and sealants a referral to a dentist. 5) Reach out to underserved groups and incorporate dental screenings into medical examinations.
Social Issues & Barriers To Care
Common pitfalls in treating dental disease:
- Most patients seek help only for acute dental problems.
- Many health care providers other than dentists do not incorporate dental health into their care.
- Access to dental care is limited for many.
- Many patients and providers have limited knowledge as to how to prevent dental illness.
Reaching the underserved population is important. A shortage of dental care workers in rural areas is evident. Many have no access to dental care, and no opportunity for dental education. Preschools are a great forum to educate teachers as well as children on the importance of diet and oral hygiene. Because low-income and poorly educated persons are more at risk for dental disease, these populations should be focused upon ( US Surgeon General’s National Call to Promote Oral Health, 2003).
Dental Health Resources
GCM Dental Clinic You must register with GCM in person Mon-Thurs 9am and 2:45pm. Best time to register is 1pm – 2:45pm. Must show proof of income. For income call 352-548-4806. Minimal fees for services based on income.
Gainesville Community Ministries 352-372-8162
We Care program 352-334-7926
Alachua County Dental Association 352-591-0168
ACORN Dental Clinic 386-485-2772
UF College of Dentistry 352-273-6701
UF Emergency Dental Clinic 352-273-6701
Dental Health Facts
With good oral hygiene and regular professional care, your teeth are meant to last a lifetime. However, if left untreated, periodontal (gum) disease can lead to tooth loss. It is the primary cause of tooth loss in adults 35 and over.
New periodontal procedures including local anesthesia and over-the counter medications, have made patients’ treatment experiences pleasant and comfortable. Many patients find they are back to normal routines on the same day or by the next day.
Emerging research links periodontal disease to other health problems including heart and respiratory diseases; preterm, how birth weight babies; stroke; osteoporosis; and diabetes.