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Dental health is essential to overall health. Good oral health improves a person’s ability to speak, taste, chew, swallow and make facial expressions to convey feelings and emotions. It is central to self-esteem.

Oral diseases, from cavities to oral cancer, cause pain and disability and, in some communities, are the number one reason children miss school. Barriers that can limit a person’s use of preventive dental interventions and treatments include:

  • Limited access to and availability of dental services,
  • Lack of awareness of the need for care,
  • Cost, and
  • Fear of dental procedures.

There are also social determinants that affect oral health. In general, people with lower levels of education and income, as well as those with other health conditions such as diabetes, have higher rates of oral disease.

In a recent survey, less than half of those living in the lower Rio Grande Valley had visited a dentist or dental clinic for any reason in the past year. This is much lower than state or national levels. The Legacy Foundation will consider funding requests for programs that seek to increase the number of people receiving dental care in our area.