When we first launched this project several years ago, we struggled to provide our patients with simple items such as floss and toothbrushes. But because of the support or donors on this project and through other giving platforms, we have been able to build our Dental Programs up to the point of expansion!
We are incredibly grateful to have partnered with our donors on GlobalGiving to reach new heights. While the fundraising goal that we set on Global Giving was not met, we received overwhelming support for our oral health care projects "offline." And together, the donations from our friends on GlobalGiving and foundations, corporations and individuals in our community, will create new access points for patients and a healthier communtiy overall!
As we prepare to close out this project, we thank you for your investment in our clinics and dedication to those in need.
In 2011 we announced plans to add a new dental clinic to expand access for our patients. Each of our four primary care sites includes an onsite or nearby dental clinic-- except one. Our patients that are seen for primary care in Beaverton, must travel to other sites for dental services, which is an added barrier to our patients who already experience challenges in their health care needs.
We believe that oral health care is an important component of a patient's overall wellness, so we are excited to move forward with this project. Below are some of the key updates on the progress of this clinic which is slated to open in Fall 2013:
“Your daughter is beautiful!” exclaims Yadira Martinez, dental hygienist at Virginia Garcia Hillsboro’s dental clinic. Gabriela Lopez beams. When Gabriela first came to VG Dental she wasn’t smiling. “My gums were sore and swollen,” said Gabriela. “I have a blood clotting disorder that makes it painful to brush my teeth, so I didn’t brush them.” Virginia Garcia’s dental director, Dr. Lisa Bozzetti, convinced Gabriela to begin oral health treatment starting with gentle cleanings and gum care.
“She was skeptical at first,” said Yadira. “In the past, dentists didn’t want to treat her for fear of bleeding. We gave her medication to help the bleeding and approached her care with caution. Little by little, her gums stopped bleeding.”
Gabriela also had untreated cavities. “Dr. Bozzetti told me that one of my teeth needed to be taken out.” After some searching, Dr. Bozzetti was able to find an oral surgeon who consulted with her on the procedure before she performed the extraction. The treatment was a success.
In the years that Gabriela has been coming to VG Dental for her oral health, she has never missed an appointment. “They are so accommodating in scheduling my appointments around my family,” said Gabriela. “The sliding fee scale means I can afford dental care for the first time.” All three of Gabriela’s children also come to VG Dental. “They like coming here. The dentists explain exactly what they are going to do. And they see that I am not nervous coming here so they aren’t afraid.”
Virginia Garcia’s dental services continue to expand. “This fall, we began providing oral health services to students at the new Willamina school-based health center and we’re looking ahead to opening a dental clinic in Beaverton,” said Dr. Bozzetti. “In each case, we’ve focused on the community’s needs so we can design our services around what works best in providing care.”
On her way out, Gabriela stops to chat with the receptionist. “I used to be embarrassed talking to people because of my teeth. And I didn’t like to smile. Now I do.” Last year, Virginia Garcia’s Dental Program served 8,500 community members with vital dental care. Of those patients served, 6,200 were children with no other option for care.
When you think of wellness, I’m sure the first thing to pop into your head isn’t your teeth and gums. The truth is that your mouth is a good indicator of your body’s overall health. Obviously by virtue of the fact that I’m a dentist, I tend to look at overall health through a lens of oral health. There is an increasing body of evidence showing that oral health is a key component of overall health. By simply brushing your teeth more often, you can reduce low grade systemic markers of inflammation (http://www.bmj.com/content/340/bmj.c2451) that are known to cause cardiovascular disease. It’s amazing to think that such a simple task of brushing our teeth more frequently can lead to such dramatic results.
When we look over a lifespan, good oral health begins already in infancy. Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (http://www.aapd.org/media/Policies_Guidelines/G_Periodicity.pdf) recommends that a child should have their first dental visit by the eruption of the first tooth or at the latest, by age one? It appears that much of high caries risk behaviors starts by age one, so it is an ideal time to intervene with parents. Much of this first visit is to educate parents about good oral hygiene habits, demonstrate how to brush their child’s teeth, and provide children with optimal fluoride supplementation, if needed. Simple recommendations like not putting a baby to bed with anything other than water in a bottle can prevent a phenomenon often known as baby bottle cavities from starting. Wiping down the gums and teeth after feedings, helps to prevent to accumulation of milk or formula on the teeth that could otherwise promote the formation of dental cavities.
Many simple healthy recommendations that help prevent obesity in adults and children also help to prevent cavities. Some of my favorite examples are drinking soda (http://www.mndental.org/public_home/educational_activities/sip_all_day_get_decay/the_hard_facts) and eating a diet high in sugars. Not only do sodas contain lots of sugar, they also have a low pH level that additionally weakens the enamel in the teeth. Sour candies (http://www.mndental.org/public_home/educational_activities/the_power_of_sour_on_your_teeth/the_hard_facts/) are very popular too and have a terrible effect on teeth, eroding the enamel as well. The hardest part is motivating people to make big changes in their lives even when it will have such a huge personal benefit.
As a public health dentist concerned about my community, I would be amiss to leave out a simple message about water fluoridation, in this context of wellness. Portland, Oregon is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the nation to not provide fluoridated water to our citizens. Our great state of Oregon, that is progressive in so many other ways, has the dubious distinction of being almost dead last amongst US states in the percentage of communities served with water fluoridation. There is an awful lot of misinformation out there about fluoride and even more scare tactics. I encourage you to look at the scientific facts that support the safety, efficacy and cost-savings of community water fluoridation. Every major national dental and medical organization supports community water fluoridation as a safe and effective means to reduce cavities in the community.
Considering that we have such a problem with access to dental care and so many in desperate need of dental care, it is critical that folks who never see a dentist could benefit from such a public health measure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rank water fluoridation as one of the top 10 public health achievements (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00056796.htm) of our time. Please take a moment to look at the scientific facts (http://everyonedeserveshealthyteeth.org/) as you ponder this topic. Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center has joined over 80 other local organizations in supporting water fluoridation in our communities. I hope you’ll join us too.
I hope I’ve given you something to chew on. Next time you think about wellness, maybe you’ll remember your teeth and gums! Alas, the mouth IS part of the body, something we as oral health professionals try to remind folks about every day.
This week, Portland City Council voted unanimously to fluoridate the city's drinking water. Portland is the largest city in the country without fluoridation, and it shows. A recent report revealed that one in three Oregon children have untreated tooth decay. Many of those children pass through our dental clinics as their families have limited to no resources to care for their oral hygiene. We believe that proper oral health begins when you are young, so to see such rampant decay is troubling. Our Dental Director, Lisa Bozzetti, DDS, spoke out in recent hearings at the City Council in support of the fluoridation effort. We have included a link with more history on this cause and a quote from Dr. Bozzetti.
This moment will set a precedent for our area and will give all children, regardless of their lot in life, the ability to have healthier, stronger teeth.
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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