A New and Beautiful Smile
December 21, 2016
The McDowell Health Care Center, established in 1989, is a comprehensive HIV specialty clinic within the MIHS system, and is the largest provider of comprehensive and coordinated HIV-related medical care for adults in Maricopa County. Dental care is particularly important for people with HIV as the risk of developing oral health problems such as gingivitis, dry mouth or oral cancer can be higher for those with weakened immune systems. A 64-year old woman recently diagnosed with HIV had lost many of her teeth due to poor living habits and past substance abuse. After being clean and sober for several years, her goal was to fix her smile and regain self-esteem. Being very fearful of dentists and believing any dental procedure would be extremely painful, dental staff from McDowell convinced the woman to start with a small tooth extraction. She could then decide whether she wanted to continue with more complex restorative procedures. When contacted a day after the initial extraction, the woman declared how wonderful the dental staff were and she was ready to complete the remaining tooth extractions. Now she is anxiously waiting for her gums to heal so that she can complete her new smile. She is looking forward to being comfortable with her new teeth, being in better health, and renewing family ties with her children and grandchildren.