Why CLLARO supports OHCO and its work to retain community water fluoridation

The use of fluoride has been in our water ever since I can remember; in fact coming from a very poor socio economically deprived community I believe that if not for fluoride in our water many of us from that community would not have a reason to smile.

As a child a visit to the dentist was very rare. In most cases it was only if you had a toothache or some type of abscess. What we often fail to realize is that poor oral health often leads to more serious health concerns such as a direct connection to diabetes and heart disease.  Good oral hygiene should be a quality of life; although we are an industrialized nation too often children from our Latino Community face barriers of limited access or no access to dental treatment and fluoridation. Whether this is because of poor oral hygiene, poor eating habits, or neglect, having fluoride in our water will definitely help to eliminate some of the tooth decay issues we talk about.  Fluoride should be an iatrical part of our water, when we look at the importance of a healthy mouth and the correlation to overall health Fluoride must continue to be part of the process.

Christine Alonzo
Executive Director
CO Latino Leadership, Advocacy and Research Organization

Why I joined OHCO’s Board of Directors

George Carlin once stated, “Everyone smiles in the same language,” suggesting that a smile reflects happiness and joy in everyone. But for a young girl who grew up with oral issues (oligodontia to be exact) that I could not address until I was much older because of lack of finances, my smile did not always reflect happiness and joy. My smile reflected dis/ease, shame, insecurities, poverty and much more as I often covered my laughs with my hands or turned my head when I smiled. Thus, supporting Oral Health Colorado is my way of creating access to not just education and resources, but to confidence as well. It’s well known that healthy smiles enhance one’s overall physical health, but it impacts esteem and even opportunities in life as well.  Support OHCO to ensure that everyone does smile in the same language!

Rev. Stephany Rose, PhD
Assistant Professor of Women’s and Ethnic Studies
University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

Why I advocate for oral health and support OHCO

I advocate for oral health in my home and community, because as a former Red Cross trained dental assistant, I have seen the effects of poor oral health first hand.  Children with brown rotting teeth are teased by their contemporaries.  This may lead to poor self-esteem and academic underachievement starting a downward spiral from which, for most, is difficult to recover.  I witnessed my own family members lose their teeth one after another, until they were forced to wear false teeth which were, for the most part, painfully uncomfortable and prone to breakage.  They were forced to make food choices based on their ability to masticate often to the detriment of proper nutrition.  My own father practically lives on bananas and hotdogs. Even those family members who have dental insurance face exorbitant deductibles and co-pays, for some procedures, which becomes a deterrent to seeking dental care. This, I know, may result in more advanced health issues like cardiovascular disease, if infection and abscess set in.  Finally, working in a cancer center I understand it is the dentist who screens us for oral cancer.  Without regular visits diseases of the oral cavity, head and neck may not be detected in the early stages when treatment is more successful. These advanced lesions can be fatal. For these and other reasons I advocate oral health and support the work of Oral Health Colorado and its partners.

Carolyn Kalaskie BSW, MS
Outreach Coordinator and ANGEL Network Liaison
Penrose Cancer Center

Why does the faith community care about oral health?

Taking good care of your mouth–teeth and gums–does more than help ensure you have a bright, white smile. A healthy mouth and healthy body go hand in hand. Good oral hygiene and oral health can improve your overall health, reducing the risk of serious disease and perhaps memory in your golden years. The phrase “healthy mouth, healthy you” really is true–and backed by scientific evidence. It’s never too early to start teaching your children to take care of their teeth and gums: Healthy habits learned in childhood can pay off in adulthood. Good oral hygiene habits–brushing, flossing, rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash, and seeing your dentist regularly–remember that you’re a role model for your kids. Keep a good smile, it will pay off in the long run!

Rev. Steve F. Mack
Eighth Street Missionary Baptist Church

Aurora Health Access supports the work of OHCO and its support in improving oral health for Colorado seniors

Aurora Health Access (AHA) is a community-based health alliance working in and for Aurora the past six years.  Our mission is to collaboratively improve access to care and create a healthier Aurora, with a focus on the most vulnerable and underserved.  A priority concern, which has been identified by our Senior Circle, is the need for improved oral health access for Aurora’s seniors. While many of Colorado’s oral health initiatives focus on children, our seniors are also desperately underserved when it comes to oral health care.  Dental caries is not just a childhood condition; a CDC report found that nearly one-third of persons 65 years of age and older have untreated dental caries.  Many people do not realize that oral health is not a benefit covered under Medicare.  Seniors represent the most uninsured segment of our population when it comes to oral health coverage.   People over 65 are 7 times more likely to be diagnosed with oral cancer than those under age 65.  Another factor that contributes to senior oral health issues is that many medications can cause dry mouth, which can lead to difficulty chewing and swallowing, and increases the risk of developing cavities and soft tissue problems.  Oral pain, whether from caries, missing teeth, ill-fitting dentures, or gum disease and infection causes too many seniors to have to adjust the quality, consistency, and balance of their diet – or be reluctant to eat at all. In Aurora, approximately 20% of people over 65 live below 200% of the federal poverty level.  Over 30% of those over 60 in the Denver metro area (which includes Aurora) report having difficulty getting the oral health they need.  The AHA Senior Circle is launching an effort to learn more about our senior’s needs, the resources available to meet those needs, where the gaps are, and how we can address them by focusing our first meeting of 2016 on oral health issues and resources for Aurora’s seniors.  

Denise Denton
Executive Director
Aurora Health Access