EB: It’s wonderful to talk with you. Yes, increasing awareness about oral health is really important because I think many of us take our teeth and gums for granted. We usually don’t take action until we’re in extreme pain from a toothache. This can then lead to an invasive dental procedure like a root canal. I personally have worked on brushing twice a day and flossing as often as possible, especially at night. As for youth, I’ve always valued the importance of establishing healthy habits early and in this case brushing and flossing regularly. Dr. Rubin supports how critical it is to start early with these types of dental habits. With respect to the African American community, it has been shown that African American men are at higher risk for oral cancer. Again, by practicing these healthy dental habits we can prevent these severe oral health outcomes.

MCDJ: Dr. Rubin advocates starting good habits early in childhood as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. As you mentioned, we may take for granted the importance of getting routine dental cleanings and exams. Higher-risk patients, like people with a history of dental disease, tobacco product use and excessive alcohol intake, should be seen by a dentist regularly. Also women, especially when pregnant, have special dental needs that need to be monitored and addressed by a dental professional. It’s good to know that there are valuable dental resources available in the Pittsburgh community, including the Allegheny County Health Department. Dr. Rubin and his colleagues are providing quality dental care through the School of Dental Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.

EB: Yes, and it’s critical to know about groups who need to prioritize seeing a dental provider and the resources available to access dental care. Plus, it is important to also know about the research being conducted in the field of dental health. By encouraging participation from African Americans in research studies, we can learn more about how to provide better dental care for future generations.

MCDJ: It was so wonderful talking with you about dental health. These health segments help me stay informed with health topics important to our communities. Thank you for encouraging children, youth and adults to practice healthy dental habits at an early age. Next month we will focus on colon cancer. As always, if anyone has questions about what they see on this page, they can contact the Community PARTners Core at ­partners@hs.pitt.edu.

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