Lately our community has been talking a lot about water fluoridation. As a practicing dental hygienist I believe that openly dialoguing about important issues such as these (as difficult as it can be) is great for bringing to light the importance of oral health to overall health and the barriers that many are currently facing when it comes to accessing care.
In Canada, accessing vital oral healthcare services can be problematic for millions, including those who are most affected by the social determinants of Health which are the broad range of personal, social, economic and environmental factors that determine individual and population health.
While most Canadians enjoy good oral health there are subgroups within our population that currently bear a disproportionate burden of oral disease, these tend to be our most vulnerable but they may be people you wouldn’t expect because something as simple as not having dental insurance can be a huge barrier to accessing dental care.
Oral health is not isolated. It is linked to the health of the rest of the body. Very important body system like the heart, lungs, brain and even unborn babies can be adversely affected by poor oral health. Microorganisms from oral infections can enter the bloodstream or Airways and travel to other parts of the body and can cause or have the potential to worsen or increase the risk of other types of health problems.
Change is not always easy but it starts by recognising the problem and a willingness to work to make things better. Every year a national initiative called the Gift from the Heart run by dental hygienists works to raise awareness and make care more accessible and this year on Saturday April 6th, to kick off the CDHA campain, National Dental Hygienists week, hygienists across the city have teamed up with the beautiful state-of-the-art dental clinic at the downtown mission to raise awareness and make dental hygiene care free and accessible.
There are those among us who work hard to promote awareness and systemic change and we will not stop but when whole communities come together to talk about and support social justice and the most vulnerable among us, we all benefit. United, we can create healthier more inclusive communities we can all be proud of.