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Office of Oral Health

Importance of Dental Health

Good oral health and hygiene is more than just a pretty smile or ease of chewing and eating. Good oral health impacts general and overall health throughout a person's life. Oral diseases have been linked to diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

It is important that dental care starts at a young age. Untreated cavities in children can result in pain, infection, poor attentiveness in class, missed school and low self-esteem. Adults can experience severe oral or facial pain from cavities, gum disease and other oral infections, most of which can be prevented. Your dentist can provide preventive care to maintain oral health and detect problems at an early stage.

You may have seen recent news coverage about dental offices concerning transmission of disease. We've created some frequently asked questions in case you have any concerns.

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Frequently Asked Questions about the Importance of Good Oral Health Care

Why is it important to visit the dentist?

We all know that it's important to brush, floss, and eat a balanced diet. But perhaps it's been awhile since you last saw a dentist. Dentists can spot oral health problems early when treatment is likely to be simpler and more affordable? Your dentist will determine when and how often you should schedule appointments.

How is oral health linked to other diseases?

Oral health is an important part of overall health. Regular dental visits are important because some diseases or medical conditions have symptoms that can appear in the mouth. Recent research suggests there may be an association between gum disease and serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

How do I find a dentist?

When searching for a dentist, the American Dental Association (ADA) offers these suggestions:

  • Ask family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers for their recommendations.
  • Ask your family doctor or local pharmacist.
  • If you're moving, ask your current dentist to make a recommendation.

The Arizona Dental Association can help you find a dentist or you can also find a list of reduced-fee and community clinicsPDF in Arizona.

Who licenses dentists in Arizona?

The Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners oversees the licensing of individuals who provide dental services in Arizona and serves all citizens who receive dental services. For more information they may be contacted at: (602) 242-1492.

What should I do to protect myself and my family from illnesses in dental care settings?

Dentists and dental healthcare providers are concerned about your safety in the dental setting. You can visit the American Dental Association website to watch an informational video to help you take an active part in your oral health care.

What do dentists do to protect their patients from blood borne viruses?

Your dentist cares about your safety and implements dental infection control practices to prevent the spread of infection. Dentists, like other healthcare professionals, are trained to utilize precautions to protect themselves and their patients. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed specific infection control recommendations for use in dental offices. The American Dental Association has long advocated the use of infection control procedures in dental offices and provides dentists with resources to help them understand and implement them.

How could I have been exposed to Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV), or Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in a dentist's office?

When dentists and other healthcare professionals do not follow proper infection control procedures, patients can be at risk to acquire these diseases. Proper infection control techniques include thorough disinfection and sterilization of instruments, proper disposal of sharp objects, use of single dose medication vials or proper handling and administering of multi-dose vial medications when used in the facility, and never reusing items such as needles and syringes between patients.

Do blood borne exposures happen very often in other dentist's offices?

This occurrence is very rare; HIV and HBV have been known to be transmitted in the dental setting. HCV transmission has not been documented in the dental setting.

Additional Resources

Oral Health Investigations