Medical Advice: The keys to unlocking a healthy mouth

FEBRUARY IS NATIONAL DENTAL HEALTH MONTH and a great time to remind individuals about the importance of good dental health and hygiene. It’s easy to take our teeth for granted; however, good oral hygiene contributes to our overall health, including speech and nutrition. Dental care remains a top health concern in Polk County.

Prevention and early detection are keys to a healthy mouth. Untreated oral disease can be a risk factor for heart and lung disease, stroke, and diabetes. For those who do not receive routine dental check-ups, common oral health issues may occur. These include broken teeth or fillings; exposed tooth roots; sores on the tongue, gums, or inside the cheek that may not heal; teeth sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet beverages; or bleeding gums.

Preventing tooth decay and gum disease is our number one goal; therefore, oral health education is our most important tool. The following are a few helpful tips for maintaining your oral health:

• Brush with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day, ideally after breakfast and before bed, with a soft toothbrush.

• Floss every night.

• Drink tap water that contains fluoride. Fluoride is safe and effective, and it keeps teeth strong.

• Avoid smoking or use of chewing tobacco.

The Florida Department of Health in Polk County provides dental services for residents who may be looking for a dental home. After a clinical examination and at the discretion of our dentist, certain dental services are available for children and adults. Services we offer include:

• Examinations

• X-rays

• Treatment planning

• Cleanings

• Sealants

• Fillings

• Extractions

Our clinics serve children and adults who do not have access to a private dentist. Acceptable dental health plans include Medicaid and plans such as Dentaquest, Liberty Dental, and Argus Dental. Since dental plans may change, please call to see if we accept yours.

We offer a $10 co-pay for members of the Polk Health Care Plan. Some residents may also qualify for the Low Income Pool (LIP) Grant. Contact our office to see if you qualify. Cash, personal check, or a credit card payment are accepted for select services if you do not have a dental plan listed above.

As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So be sure to practice proper oral hygiene. It will benefit you for a lifetime.


article by DR. JOY JACKSON

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Joy Jackson, an internal medicine physician, serves the community as director of the Florida Department of Health in Polk County (FDOH-Polk). For more information about FDOH-Polk, visit

Posted January 29, 2016

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