Healthy Smiles

Creating Healthy Smiles One Screening at a Time

The Well-Ahead Healthy Smiles team is preparing to continue our Bright Smiles for Bright Futures Oral Health Screening Project this Fall.  This project provides a basic, non-invasive oral health screening to third grade students at eligible schools.  This means that a licensed dental hygienist screens students for dental sealants, tooth decay, and cavities, and then makes appropriate dental recommendations.  This project has provided oral health screenings for 902 students since it started last Fall.       

 

Dental health is often a child's top unmet health need.  This type of open-mouth survey is used nationwide for consistency in obtaining oral health data.  Bright Smiles for Bright Futures helps our team collect data in hopes of securĀ­ing funding for future oral health programming for Louisiana students.  In 2009, this project uncovered that a startling 42% of Louisiana third graders had untreated tooth decay, 66% had an untreated cavity, and 43% needed to be referred to a dentist for further treatment.  Click here to learn more.    

 

Bright Smiles for Bright Futures has received great feedback in regards to its screening process, oral health education and dental resources. Additionally, this project has provided an opportunity to educate schools on the the importance of evidence-based oral health prevention strategies like school-based dental sealant clinics and fluoride varnish applications.  Several principals have become especially interested in dental sealant clinics!  

 

In the upcoming school year, we hope to conduct an additional 1,100 oral health screenings statewide.  After the data is analyzed, an inclusive report will be released.  

         

Did You Know?

  • Louisiana currently scores a “D” in overall youth oral health interventions   
  • Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease of children aged 6 to 11 years old.             

Moving Louisiana’s Health Forward

The Well-Ahead Healthy Smiles team promotes oral health through education and expanded access to preventative dental services.  Are you a school staff member that is passionate about oral health? Give your students the opportunity for a healthy smile – email wellahead@la.gov to learn more.