PA Secretary of Health Emphasizes Importance of Oral Health

Acting Secretary of Health and Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Denise JohnsonActing Secretary of Health and Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson speaking with Joseph Mountain VP of Dental Services for Family First Health (Credit: Commonwealth Media Services)

PENNSYLVANIA — Emphasizing the need for access to oral health care for all Pennsylvanians, Acting Secretary of Health and Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson yesterday visited the dental clinic at Family First Health – George Street Center in York.

“You cannot be truly healthy without good oral health,” said Dr. Johnson. “Many people do not realize that dental disease can cause a variety of health issues. Our hearts, lungs, and other organs can be harmed. Chronic conditions like diabetes can be worsened. Pregnancies are also negatively impacted. It can also take a toll on our mental health, as one factor leading to depression and low self-confidence.”

Dr. Johnson toured Family First Health’s George Street dental clinic, where patients of all ages can receive care from dental providers. Family First Health is a federally qualified health center (FQHC) offering accessible and affordable quality care in York, Adams and Lancaster counties. The center also has a mobile dental program that visits local elementary schools and childcare centers.

“It’s easy to protect your smile just by turning on the tap and drinking a glass of water,” Dr. Johnson said. “Community water fluoridation has been recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. The evidence from numerous academic, government and independent studies over the years has continued to demonstrate that community water fluoridation is safe, effective and economical resulting in significant benefits and cost-savings to communities.”

Dr. Johnson was joined by Family First Health President and CEO Jenny Englerth and Vice President of Dental Services Dr. Joseph Mountain on her tour.

“We welcome the Secretary and appreciate the spotlight her visit is shining on the importance of access to oral health care,” said Englerth. “Our team works to connect the dots between medical and dental care which supports better overall health for our patients and the communities we serve.”

In addition to promoting the benefits of water fluoridation, the Department of Health is also working to improve the oral health of Pennsylvanians and to help ensure that oral health care is affordable and accessible to all by utilizing federal grants to improve the oral health workforce across the state. This funding, totaling $3.45 million, will help to provide continuing education to oral health professionals, increase opportunities to serve vulnerable populations, provide teledentistry support and support oral health integration into community-based agencies.

For more information on oral health in Pennsylvania visit

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