'Know your mouth, celebrate your smile'
It is the responsibility of one's oral-health provider to identify, treat, and aid in preventing diseases of the oral cavity. However, for varying reasons, identifying, treating and some aspects of prevention are limited to the walls of the dental office, which is descending the ladder of priority in terms of a scheduled visit by the members of our population. This is attributed to a number of reasons, varying from a general phobia to economic constraints. Anecdotal evidence shows that, in many cases, if one does not believe that, there is something wrong in the mouth, the visit to the dentist will more likely be put off. Also, in other cases, if one detects something may be amiss, the visit may still be delayed until the symptoms disturb everyday productivity and routine.
While oral-care providers are equipped with the expertise to identify and treat at whatever stage of health or disease that a client may present with, we would much rather aid in the prevention aspect of the spectrum. Oral Health Month is the platform from which we broadcast our campaign for prevention of oral diseases.
The Jamaica Dental Association (JDA) seeks to encourage our society to 'Know Your Mouth', meaning, we want to educate and create a better awareness of what a healthy oral cavity entails. To encourage routine dental check-ups so that a professional assessment is made and not allow conditions such as tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancer to go on undetected until severe, because if we
should consider it, prevention is truly 'better than cure'. To not take decisions to allow unqualified persons to perform dental procedures because "it's cheaper". To help our potential mothers understand the facets of their own dental treatment during pregnancy and through to early-childhood oral care for children. To help those living with chronic illnesses be aware of the interaction with oral hygiene. We want to introduce the technological advancements in dentistry, eliminating some of the factors that evoke fear at the dental visit. Then, eventually, one should come to a point where one should know, profoundly, whether his teeth and gums are healthy or need rehabilitation.
So I say to anyone, make your smile a priority, seek professional advice from your dentist, discuss with him/her a proposed treatment plan, and when the goal is achieved, 'Celebrate Your Smile'!
Dr Alicia Bartley