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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.