| Feb 26, 2015
Over the course of her short lifetime, Audra estimates she's had seven cavities. But the 31-year-old isn't exactly sure. Can't be. She's no dentist, and some of those suspected cavities have been self-diagnosed.
As she waited in Medical Teams International's Mobile Dental Clinic Feb. 25, located at the Good Neighbors Center in Tigard, Ore., Audra said she believed she had five in her mouth as she spoke. "One in the back and four in the front," she said.
Audra blamed how she rarely, if ever, visited the dentist when she was a child. She didn't grow up with a lot of money, and her mother was averse to seeking public or private assistance. When Audra did see a dentist as a kid, her mom paid for the visit out of pocket.
Money has long been a problem for Audra, who spent time homeless and living at the Good Neighbors Center. Now she has her own apartment and is continuing to move in a positive direction.
Still, she's anxious about seeing dentists, concerned that each visit will bring bad news.
“I feel like every time I go to the dentist, it’s going to be awful," she said.
Audra's situation illustrates the importance of preventive oral health care among children. While oral health remains the nation's hidden health care challenge, studies suggest that the more exposure kids have to beneficial dental habits early on, the better off they are later in life.
That's why MTI's Mobile Dental program places a premium on promoting positive childhood dental health. Mobile Dental provides thousands of kids with an easy-to-read brochure and a kid-friendly kit of basic dental supplies. MTI staff and volunteers also provide classroom instruction. This is work that can only be made possible through the generous gifts provided by our donors.
Audra chats with volunteer MTI dentist Dr. Dale Canfield during a visit to a Mobile Dental Clinic on Feb. 25.
Although Audra wishes she'd been exposed to the dentist more growing up, she's interested in making up for those lost visits. She's using available resources, such as Mobile Dental, to improve her life. Audra said she is thankful for the services provided by the Mobile Dental program and is happy she heard about them from the Good Neighbors Center.
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