We know that eating nutritious foods and engaging in regular exercise are essential to maintaining good health. But did you know that how you take care of your mouth, teeth and gums is equally important?
Research shows that people who have good oral health routines have better overall health and possibly lower their risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
It also shows that individuals with good oral health routines generally feel better about themselves and have a healthy self-image.
Ignoring our teeth and gums increases tooth decay, gum disease and poor self-image. Cavities or broken teeth can cause pain when chewing and gum disease can result in tender gums and bad breath. These issues can reduce our ability to concentrate as well as make eating healthy foods difficult, and both are vital for a healthy body and mind.
Regular checkups with your dental professional are as critical as regular health checkups with your doctor. In fact, it’s harder for you and your doctor to keep the rest of you healthy if your mouth suffers from tooth decay and gum disease.
There is a lot of fear and anxiety about dental care. Regular visits, which your dental professional recommends, can help take care of problems early and may reduce the need for a root canal, tooth extraction or gum repair which, can be more serious and costly to address.
The Pima County Health Department is committed to the health and well-being of all residents and encourages everyone to be seen by a dental professional regularly. However, not everyone has dental insurance or can afford going to the dentist.
That’s why we have several education and prevention programs to help children understand and practice good oral health habits. The Pima County Health Department Mobile Dental Unit visits many local schools to provide oral health education, screenings and sealants for students as needed. Additionally, in partnership with First Things First, the department’s First Smiles Matter program provides dental screenings and fluoride treatment for children ages infant to five years.
In partnership with community school districts, 66 Pima County schools participated in student screenings. As a result, Health Department staff were able to screen more than 1,900 school age children and provide sealants to help protect teeth for nearly 1,300 children for the previous fiscal year.
We are committed to supporting our residents to achieve optimal personal health and to live long, healthy and successful lives, and good oral health is part of that equation. My goal is to a healthy Pima County reflected in the vibrant healthy smiles of our community, everyone, everywhere, every day.
(Editor’s Note: Dr. Francisco Garcia is the Pima County director of health.)