Q&A on stopping dental problems before they start

Doug Harvey, dental program manager at FDOH-Polk, talks preventive care to help you remain the picture of oral health

FIRST IMPRESSIONS are the currency of our culture, and you want yours to be worth a million bucks, right? But we all need a little help sometimes keeping our pearly whites in tip-top condition. Central Florida Health News magazine talked to Doug Harvey, the dental program manager at the Florida Department of Health in Polk County (FDOH-Polk). He dispels some myths about what good dental hygiene really is, and gives us some pointers for stopping dental problems in their tracks — before they become serious health concerns.

CENTRAL FLORIDA HEALTH NEWS (CFHN): In your experience, what have you found is the most common excuse for not getting regular dental cleanings?

DOUG HARVEY: We find that many patients who haven’t been in to see the dentist for long periods indicate that the cost is a factor.

CFHN: What advice would you have for people who don’t have dental health coverage?

HARVEY: Don’t wait until you feel pain to worry about a tooth. We can qualify many low-income Polk County residents for a program that will cover the costs of basic services.

CFHN: In this area, what are some of the more common dental problems treated by the team at FDOH-Polk?

HARVEY: Cavities, impacted teeth, and gum disease. These can be minimized with brushing and flossing at home at least twice a day and regular semi-annual visits to your dentist.

CFHN: What oral health care tips does your team at the FDOH-Polk often share with patients?

HARVEY: Brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes, floss every day, and establish a “dental home” where you are seen regularly by the same dental care providers.

CFHN: What are some of the most important steps residents can take to preventing dental health problems?

HARVEY: Don’t wait until you feel pain before you go to the dentist. Once you start to feel pain, we are limited in what we can do. There are many things we can do to treat cavities and gum disease if they are caught early.

CFHN: What would you say is a common myth on oral preventive care?

HARVEY: “If I brush my teeth every day, I really don’t need to go to the dentist for an exam.” By doing a thorough examination with X-rays, we can detect problems early and develop a treatment plan to prevent cavities and gum disease.

CFHN: Is there anything else you would like to share about the dental program at FDOH-Polk?

HARVEY: We have four dental clinics in Polk County, including Lakeland, Auburndale, Haines City, and Bartow, and there are programs available for Polk County residents who qualify to cover the costs of basic dental care. For more information, please visit our website at polk.floridahealth.gov.



Posted March 1, 2016

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