AIDS Services of Austin is excited to welcome the Jack Sansing Dental Clinic's new Director of Dental Services, Antonio Menchaca, DMD. We caught up with Antonio to ask why he's so excited to join the ASA team.
ASA: Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been in Austin?
AM: I grew up in southern California and went to UCLA for undergraduate studies, and left for the east coast when I attended Boston University for dental school on an Army scholarship.
I moved to Austin in the summer of 2014 when I was stationed at Fort Hood, and have been living in Georgetown since then. I have enjoyed the Austin area so much that after getting out of the Army in June of 2018, I decided to stay and start planting more permanent roots.
My main hobbies are horseback riding (showjumping) and playing soccer (indoor and outdoor), but I also like to hang out with my dogs and be social with friends and travel when possible. Guiltiest pleasure: eating copious amounts of ice cream while watching Bravo TV.
ASA: What excites you about joining ASA? What impact are you hoping to have?
AM: As a new member on the ASA team, I am most excited about being a part of a greater movement that helps an underserved client population. As the new Director of Dental Services at ASA, I am provided with the perfect platform to utilize my clinical knowledge to improve the oral health of an entire community, rather than on a single patient basis. I hope that I can continue to help remove barriers to dental care while fostering an environment that focuses on prevention, education, and provides positive experiences for its patients.
ASA: Why does Oral Healthcare matter so much for our clients and the communities affected by HIV?
AM: Oral Healthcare is extremely important for our clients and the communities affected by HIV because of the widespread impact it has on their lives. Most importantly, clients that have not had access to dental care may be experiencing dental pain that often interferes with their ability to eat food, thus negatively affecting their nutrition and possibly the effectiveness of their medications.
Access to dental care is also important as recent studies have confirmed that cardiovascular health is tied to the oral cavity. Long term infections in the oral cavity, such as chronic gingivitis and periodontist or chronic abscesses, have shown to significantly increase one’s risk for heart disease. Additionally, uncontrolled infections in the oral cavity can even result in death in some severe cases.
Access to routine hygiene care is important not only so that clients can maintain healthy mouths, but also because routine dental appointments can help provide extra chances for medical screenings to monitor oral lesions, as well as, conditions such as blood pressure and diabetes. Lastly, the psychological effects of having a healthy mouth cannot be overlooked as people that are confident in their oral health and without tooth pain are more likely to smile, which improves their self-confidence and can positively impact their ability to interact socially with others. Thus, by increasing a client or community member’s oral health, we are improving their overall health and quality of life.
ASA: What do you love about Austin, TX?
AM: I have really loved the food scene here, especially the many local, Austin-only restaurants. I also love that Austin is a city that embraces outdoor activities so that I can always take advantage of great weather.
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