Timothy Martinez DMD has written many high-quality and respected medical articles over the years, focusing on improving oral health procedures and enhancing these procedures. His most respected of these articles may have been his co-written “Breaking Down Barriers,” an influential article highlighting the critical nature of giving people with HIV equal access to oral healthcare processes.
What Dr. Timothy Martinez Said in “Breaking Down Barriers”
In this peer-reviewed article and course, Dr. Timothy Martinez and his co-authors examined the problems people with HIV experience with oral healthcare and how limitations in the current medical environment affect them adversely. They highlighted why oral healthcare is so crucial and examined the many barriers affecting those struggling with this dangerous disease.
These barriers are extensive and can be very hard for people with HIV to overcome. For example, this study found that around half of all dental expenditures come out of most people’s funds and that Medicaid, the most significant source of dental insurance, was available to only 60% of adults with this insurance because of limited state coverage and other problems associated with insurance protection.
Even more troubling, Timothy Martinez DMD and his team discovered that only 29% of adults with Medicaid visited a dental office in the past year and that many people with HIV didn’t go. Unfortunately, people with HIV have a compromised immune system that may make fighting various infections challenging. These issues were often more prominent in underserved areas, such as more significant urban areas.
These problems included complex issues like xerostomia, candidiasis, necrotizing ulcerative periodontitis, and oral warts that affected people with HIV more heavily due to their condition. Tragically, many of these individuals did not get care for their condition, leaving them open for more severe and long-term complications that Dr. Martinez’s paper addressed in depth.
The first solution he addressed was achieving sustainable oral healthcare solutions by establishing a community consensus on the importance of oral healthcare. This process included finding programs and grants that helped those with HIV. Dr. Timothy Martinez also suggested maximizing Medicaid reimbursement programs and finding private insurance suitable for those with HIV and oral healthcare issues.
Just as importantly, he highlighted the critical importance of teaching dental hygienists and other professionals how to work with people who have HIV. His suggested steps included enhancing highly active anti-retroviral therapy or HAART, as this process increases white blood cells and decreases virus amounts. Since the introduction of HAART, the oral manifestations of HIV have changed. The occurrence of candidiasis has decreased; however the side effects include xerostomia and oral warts. If untreated, xerostomia can increase levels of tooth decay and infections of the mouth. Hygienists can work safely with people undergoing this treatment as they play a key factor in the reduction of oral bacteria and maintaining a healthy oral health environment.
Hygienists also need more specialized training, Timothy Martinez DMD argues, to understand the challenges related to those with HIV. For example, he strongly suggested expanding classroom attention on this topic, including training dentists to work with patients who have HIV more safely and providing the caring and detailed treatment they need to stay healthy.