Smiling Makes You Feel Better

Good Oral Health is Good for Your Overall Health

Researchers at the University of Kansas found that smiling helps reduce your body’s response to stress and lowers your heart rate in tense situations. Another study suggests smiling leads to a longer life. There’s no question: smiling is good for you!

A person’s mouth is often referred to as the window into the health of the body. A main reason is that this area is the entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts. Given that the mouth is also known to be home to a significant number of bacteria, maintaining healthy teeth and gums is essential to a healthy life. By understanding what causes issues like tooth decay and oral diseases, you can make smart, simple changes to better your health.

Brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing at least once a day and seeing your dentist twice a year are a great foundation for having a healthy smile and good oral health. Eating healthy, quitting tobacco and drinking tap water are great ways to really take your smile to the next level!

Opioid Crisis and Oral Health

Many Americans experience their first exposure to opioids after dental extractions. Because opioids are highly addictive, those who develop a dependency also experience issues with dry mouth and tooth decay. The Louisiana Department of Health has created the Louisiana Opioid Data and Surveillance System to give health professionals, researchers, and decision makers the information to address statewide opioid abuse.

Simple Ways to a Healthier Smile

There are safe and effective ways to prevent oral health disease that everyone can follow to help maintain a healthy smile.

Good Oral Hygiene

Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing, visiting a dentist for routine checkups and cleanings, drinking fluoridated water and avoiding tobacco products are all great ways to prevent tooth decay, cavities and the development of gum disease.

Oral hygiene is an important part of children’s overall health. Adults can encourage oral hygiene habits in children through fun activities that promote oral health. The resources below can also help educate children about healthy routines, good oral hygiene, proper tooth development, and how fluoride protects teeth.

Eat Healthy

The foods you eat affect your health, your energy level and the way you feel. Living in a state known for its famous Southern cuisine can make eating healthy a challenge, but following a nutritious diet doesn’t have to be complicated or tasteless.

Small, nutritious changes can make a big impact in your overall health. Consuming less sugar and more fruits and vegetables helps prevent cavities and can improve your overall health.

Because oral health has a direct impact on other chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and stroke, eating healthy can help you love your smile now and well-ahead into the future! 

Quit Tobacco

Tobacco use can cause cancer of the larynx (voice box), the mouth and throat. In addition, tobacco use can color your teeth and cause tooth and gum decay. Secondhand smoke can also harm the ones you love. For all of these reasons and more, quitting or never starting tobacco use is an important part of having a smile you can love!

For help quitting, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit

Drink Water

Tap water, especially water that has been fluoridated, is good for your teeth and bones! It’s also free and good for the environment. So drink tap and keep on loving your smile!

Adults and Older Adults

Oral health is important to adults yet it is often overlooked. Oral health issues related to aging include periodontal disease, oral cancer, temporomandibular joint disorders and the breakdown of dental fillings. In addition, there are a number of associations between common health conditions and oral health. This includes diabetes, osteoporosis and low self-esteem due to tooth loss.

Parents and Expecting Mothers

Good oral health habits displayed by parents can result in a lifetime of good oral health for their children. For moms-to-be, something as simple as brushing your teeth thoroughly can reduce the risk of suffering dangerous complications in pregnancy such as premature birth or low birth weight.¹

Children and Adolescents

Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood, with about 1 in 5 children aged 5 to 11 years having at least one untreated decayed tooth.² Early childhood caries (ECC) can cause significant pain for children and can lead to oral infection, visible dental decay, destruction and loss of teeth, and damage to permanent teeth. This can impact a child’s self-esteem, sleep patterns, school readiness, weight gain and more. Child care centers can play an important role in the reduction of cavities by educating children and their parents on the importance of healthy oral hygiene.

Individuals with Special Needs

Oral health is Louisiana’s top unmet need and this is especially true for individuals with special needs. Dental care is often not prioritized because there are more pressing medical issues that become the primary focus for these individuals.