This September, Cleveland public radio, WCPN Ideastream, is broadcasting a special program examining the importance of oral health to overall systemic health, and the many barriers to dental health care access individuals face.
The series, entitled, “Watch Your Mouth,” features interviews with leading dental professionals in the Cleveland area, including many from our own CWRU School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Nabil Bissada of CWRU highlights the connections between gum disease, heart disease, diabetes, and even premature birth to emphasize the importance of oral health to overall health. Oral infections provide easy access for disease-causing bacteria to enter the body, and sustained oral inflammation can also have adverse effects on the heart, liver, pancreas and joints.
Oral health is a particularly important issue to address in childhood. Dr. Gerald Feretti, also a professor at CWRU, discusses the high rates of oral health problems in children. Early childhood tooth decay, he notes, is the number one chronic infection in childhood, occurring even more frequently than asthma or ear infections. Dr. Feretti emphasizes that poor oral health habits in childhood lead to poor oral and systemic health through adulthood.
In October, the Schubert Center for Child Studies is also addressing the issue of oral health for children. Dr. James Lalumandier, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Community Dentistry at CWRU and a Schubert Center Faculty Associate, will be presenting a decade of work helping to improve the oral health of children in Cleveland. The Healthy Smiles Dental Sealant Program, founded by Dr. Lalumandier, works to provide preventive dental health services to children in low-income communities in Cleveland. At the Center’s October Conversation on Children in Research, Policy, and Practice, Dr. Lalumandier will discuss this work and suggest ways in which policy could be used to improve children’s oral health.