Good oral health is essential to the health of all Louisiana residents. Oral disease is almost completely preventable, but it still affects children and adults throughout Louisiana every day.

Oral Health Impacts More than Smiles

Chronic Disease Leads to Oral Disease

Our oral health affects our ability to speak, smile, eat and show emotions. It also affects self-esteem, academic performance and attendance at work and school. Poor oral health is associated with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease and risk behaviors like tobacco use and sugary diets. In Louisiana, 86% of our parishes are Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas, meaning the majority of our state does not have access to the dental care they need.


of third grade children in Louisiana had damage to a tooth’s surface or enamel¹


of Louisiana residents receive fluoridated drinking water²


Louisiana adults lost at least one of their permanent teeth due to tooth decay or gum disease³


of Louisiana adults 65 years and older had all their natural, permanent teeth removed due to tooth decay or gum disease³

Championing Health Smiles

Improve the Oral Health of Louisiana Residents

Well-Ahead Louisiana is making strides when it comes to improving oral health outcomes in our state. Our oral health promotion program is built around three main pillars.

Promoting Awareness of the Importance of Oral Health and its Association to Overall Health

Understanding the relationships between oral health and other chronic diseases is critical to early intervention and disease prevention. Research shows there is a strong association between chronic diseases and poor oral health. Residents living with diabetes are more susceptible to developing oral infections and gum disease. In addition, residents who use tobacco are at higher risk for gum disease and tooth-loss, due to plaque and tarter build-up.

Partnering with Organizations to Improve Overall Oral Health for All of Louisiana’s Residents

Well-Ahead partners with various community and professional organizations to promote the importance of oral health as a contributing factor to general health and well-being. 

Encouraging Evidence-based Best Practices that Improve Oral Health

Our top priority is promoting evidence-based best practices like school-based dental sealant programs, the basic screening survey and community water fluoridation to improve oral health throughout Louisiana.

In coordination with our statewide WellSpot Designation program, we work with organizations to implement evidence-based strategies and promote healthy choices in the spaces and places where we live, work, learn and play to reduce the burden of oral disease throughout our state.


1 Bright Smiles for Bright Futures Report, 2017-18.

2 Water Fluoridation Reporting System (WFRS), 2018.

3 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2018.

Success Stories

Improving oral health positively influences the health our communities, one smile at a time.
Celeste Terry and EXCELth team want bright smiles for all Louisiana’s children

Celeste Terry and EXCELth team want bright smiles for all Louisiana’s children

Dental Hygienist Celeste Terry knows the link between oral health and overall health, which is why she’s committed to being part of Well-Ahead’s Louisiana Seals Smiles program. Louisiana Seals Smiles provides funding and resources for collaboration between oral health providers and schools in an effort to improve the oral health of children ages 6-14. Through …

Read More

Calcasieu Parish Waterworks District 1 makes fluoridating water a successful habit

Calcasieu Parish Waterworks District 1 makes fluoridating water a successful habit

For Calcasieu Parish Waterworks District 1 Superintendent Gerald Hoffpauir and his operators, keeping their community’s drinking water at an optimal fluoridated level is simply a matter of routine. Yet through this routine, District 1 has earned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Water Fluoridation Quality Award for seven years running. The CDC presents their …

Read More