The Edgar County Health Department is observing American Heart Month and Children’s National Dental Health Month with a free Winter Health Carnival 5-7 p.m. Feb. 24 at the health department, …
The Edgar County Health Department is observing American Heart Month and Children’s National Dental Health Month with a free Winter Health Carnival 5-7 p.m. Feb. 24 at the health department, 502 Shaw Avenue.
Activities include indoor carnival games, face painting, photo props and tours of the building. In addition, the staff is offering blood pressure checks, dental screenings and educational opportunities to learn more about dental, nutrition and environmental health and communicable diseases.
“This is the first event of its kind we have done,” said health department administrator Janet Mason. “We want to draw attention to all we do.”
Something the Edgar County Health Department is known for is a high-volume dental clinic that served 7,200 patients in 2019 and visits 30 schools in three counties providing children with cleanings, sealing and fluoride treatments. School visits also identify students who have need for follow up care.
“We have some patients that come from two hours, or more, away for treatment,” said dental hygienist Tabitha Boyd. “That speaks to the need for dental care for the underserved.”
The health department’s dental clinic is staffed by a full-time dentist, a dentist who provides service one day each week, four dental hygienists and two dental assistants.
Hygienist Monica Dunn said the goal is to provide top quality care to people who otherwise don’t have access to a dentist because they cannot afford dental insurance or going to a private practice dentist.
“We offer full-scope dental services including dentures, which many people don’t realize,” said Dunn.
The health department staff is passionate about good dental health pointing out tooth and gum disease contributes to or exacerbates other conditions, such as:
νThe risk of death to coronary heart disease patients increases with every tooth lost.
νThe presence of dangerous oral bacteria is a root cause that drives systemic inflammation and damages the blood vessel lining. This is the first step toward a heart attack and stroke.
νGum disease and tooth loss increases the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
νThe presence of bleeding gums in a diabetic patient increases the risk of premature death by 400-700 percent.
νAt least 80 percent of American adults have gum inflammation/disease.
νCavities are the most common form of chronic disease.
νThe U.S. experiences $45 billion of lost productivity each year because of adult emergency dental care.
“Cavities are preventable by fluoridating tap water, using fluoride toothpaste and fluoride varnish treatments,” said Boyd.
The hygienists want adults to attend the health carnival to learn more about the importance of regular dental visits starting as soon as the first tooth erupts in an infant.
“We can educate all we want in the schools, but when they get home, it stops,” said Boyd.
Health educator Brandi Eaton discussed the importance of monitoring other conditions like blood pressure, obesity and other issues that can lead to heart disease. She noted heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.
“Uncontrolled blood pressure is dangerous,” said Eaton. “There are no signs or symptoms. The only way to know is to get that checked.”
Visiting the health carnival is also a way to learn about smoking cessation programs, the dangers of vaping, how to improve eating habits and the importance of exercise.
Information about the health department’s Learn to Run program, which will be starting in a few months, is also available. Learn to Run is not about speed or distance. The emphasis is learning how to build endurance to run longer, if not farther.
“It’s important for people to know their numbers like glucose and cholesterol,” said Eaton. “They can come to the health department and have blood work done. We can talk to them about how obesity leads to heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, and we can talk about the importance of controlling weight and keeping active.”