About Teeth Doctors
A person's oral health affects his or her overall health and well-being. Oral diseases and conditions, such as dental caries (tooth decay), periodontal disease, tooth loss, orofacial clefts, and oral cancers, are significant public health issues. They can cause pain and suffering and have broader consequences for a person's life, such as poor nutrition, employment opportunities and self-esteem. Many oral conditions are preventable and treatable. Yet, these conditions remain the leading cause of noncommunicable diseases worldwide.
Oral healthcare system can help reduce barriers to accessing oral healthcare. For example, government programs like Medicaid can improve access to oral healthcare for low-income adults by offering coverage and facilitating referrals to dental providers. State and community-based initiatives can also support health service professionals, such as dentists, nurses, hygienists, physicians and community health workers, in providing oral healthcare to vulnerable populations.
Education can be an important component of a person's wellness plan and should be delivered to all audiences, including children and families. For instance, Head Start programs can incorporate oral health literacy into the curriculum to ensure that young children receive appropriate health information and can take positive steps toward good oral health habits as they grow.
Dental care is also critical to the overall health and wellness of older adults. When chronic illness or advanced age causes xerostomia, serious oral infections, or ill-fitting dentures, it can impair nutrition, quality of life, and mobility. Care coordination by nurses, physicians, and palliative care teams with oral health hygienists can facilitate timely referrals for needed dental services.
The capacity to prevent oral health problems exists, but it must be brought to scale. This means changing the way oral health is prioritized in health systems and communities, increasing funding for public health and dental care programs, leveraging existing laws and policies to increase access, and using research and effective communication to ensure that people have the knowledge and tools to get the preventive dental care they need.
A transformed oral health care system that revolves around prevention can significantly improve the quality of life for people and societies. It is essential that all communities make it a priority to meet Healthy People objectives related to oral health. However, while a transformation to prevention is necessary, a capacity for "rescue operations" must be maintained in the foreseeable future and be included in comprehensive dental care. Health services and policy research can identify innovative models of care and ways to strengthen them, such as introducing dental benefits into public health insurance programs, developing new dental partnerships, and improving access to oral care in private practices.