I ’m in dental school and excited about one day possibly serving the mission of our church. Would you please share more about dental mission opportunities as well as general information on dental and oral health?
Thanks for this needed question and the nudge to share more information!
The Adventist Church has 125 denominationally sponsored dental clinics and practices in more than 60 countries. We also have five dental schools around the world. There are many work opportunities available in the network, and you would be welcomed! General Conference Adventist Health Ministries, in collaboration with Loma Linda University School of Dentistry (LLUSD), oversees and nurtures the denominational dental initiatives directed by Dr. Doyle Nick, a dentist practicing in Loma Linda, California, USA.
Oral health is an integral aspect of wholistic health and well-being and dependent on numerous factors. These include dental hygiene habits, diet, genetics, and access to dental care. Naturally occurring mineral fluoride plays an important preventive role in dental health through strengthening tooth enamel, making it more resistant to decay and cavities. Fluoride may be added to water, toothpaste, and even foods. Community water fluoridation is an effective way to ensure that people receive an adequate and safe amount of fluoride. In addition, fluoride treatments administered by a dentist can provide an extra layer of protection against tooth decay.
Regular brushing and flossing are essential for maintaining oral health. Brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily help remove plaque and food particles that can lead to decay and gum disease. Consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and healthy proteins can help maintain oral health by providing essential nutrients to teeth and gums. Foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can contribute to the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth, leading to decay and cavities.
Access to dental care (dentists and dental hygienists) is also an important factor in maintaining oral health. Regular dental checkups and cleanings can identify and address issues before they become more serious. Prevention is better than cure, and less painful!
In addition to these important factors, there are several other considerations. Smoking and tobacco use can impact dental and oral health, causing discoloration, bad breath, gum disease, and oral cancer. Certain medical conditions can impact dental and oral health. People with diabetes may be at higher risk for gum disease, while people with HIV/AIDS may experience more frequent infections and other oral health issues. In summary, maintaining good dental and oral health requires attention to several important factors. Fluoride, dental hygiene habits, diet, genetics, access to dental care, avoiding smoking and tobacco use, and understanding the side effects of medication use (such as a dry mouth) all play a role in maintaining oral health. By taking steps to address each of these factors, we can help maintain good oral health and overall well-being. Dr. Nick has agreed to contribute two following columns addressing adult and pediatric issues, respectively, to assist in our quest for the best dental health.
Peter N. Landless, a board-certified nuclear cardiologist, is director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.
Zeno L. Charles-Marcel, a board-certified internist, is an associate director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference.
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