October is Dental Hygiene Month
Together We Give the Gift of a Clean, Healthy Mouth
To celebrate dental hygienists and to help raise awareness on the importance of good oral health, Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless Dental Hygienist Nutan Patel completed oral health exams right in the medical clinic to integrate oral health care with other health services. It is particularly effective in helping people who are experiencing homelessness to address medical, behavioral and oral health problems that are interrelated at the same time, as much as possible.
In partnership with Pima Medical Institute Dental Hygienist students and the AHCH Dental Program, Nutan coordinated three screening days in October beginning at 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Medical Clinic and in the Resource Center. A screening included a reading of the client’s blood pressure and what it means, an oral cancer screening, plaque and tartar treatment with a fluoride varnish and a thorough examination of client’s mouth. An oral health screening of the lips, tongue, teeth, gums, inside of the cheeks, and roof of the mouth can identify oral diseases, especially tooth decay, or other oral conditions. An oral health screening takes only 2 or 3 minutes to complete.
Limited access to dental care increases homeless people’s high risk for oral diseases, often resulting in loss of function, self-esteem and well-being. Nutan’s coordinated oral health screenings are filling the gaps in dental services for the vulnerable and hard-to reach populations. The following programs were integrated into the oral screenings project: Medical, Behavioral Health, and Harm Reduction.
Dental health is imperative to a person’s ability to eat well, express oneself, maintain self-confidence, and remain free of pain from such conditions as abscesses. All of these factors are essential to a person’s capacity to get or stay healthy, acquire housing and/or employment, and transition out of homelessness.
Walk in visits for emergencies or toothaches are available Monday to Friday at 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. however will be accepted throughout the day if needed.