Healthy Smiles

Medical Providers Can Keep Smiles Healthy Too! 

Pediatricians are the first line of defense against illness and disease in children.  When medical providers become Smiles for Life certified to apply fluoride varnish, they can keep their patients’ smiles healthy too!  Fluoride varnish is a gel substance that is applied directly to the teeth.  It takes less than two minutes to apply and dries almost instantly.  From a very early age, fluoride varnish provides the most effective protection against tooth decay for children. 

Applying fluoride varnish during routine well visits is becoming a standard of care in pediatrics nationwide.  Recently, our team’s Provider Education Network hosted a webinar that provided valuable information on fluoride varnish application. This webinar was led by a panel of medical and dental providers of the Louisiana Oral Health Coalition.  Panelists provided guidance on becoming Smiles for Life certified and Medicaid reimbursement.  To further promote fluoride varnish application, our team partnered with Medicaid.   Promotional materials were distributed to medical professionals via Medicaid e-blasts and direct outreach.    

In addition, Well-Ahead partnered with WIC (Women, Infants and Children) to promote fluoride varnish application to mothers.  Our team created and distributed a direct mailer to mothers enrolled in WIC services in Winn Parish.  This mailer highlighted the ease, importance and safety of fluoride varnish application.   Our team team also created a short video that reinforces the mailer's message.  This video currently being shown in WIC waiting rooms across the state. 

A healthy child is a happy child.  When medical providers incorporate preventive dental services at routine well visits, their smiles can be healthy, too!          

Did You Know?

  • Tooth decay is the most common preventable childhood disease. In children ages 6 to 11 years old, it is ­­­five times more common than asthma and four times ­­­more common than obesity.          

Moving Louisiana’s Health Forward

A lifetime Smiles for Life certification is available online and takes only about an hour to complete. The certification is free and continuing education units are given at the end. Become Smiles for Life certified today by following the simple steps below!

  • Visit the Smiles for Life website www.smilesforlifeoralhealth.org and review the training module: Course No. 6: Caries Risk assessment, Fluoride Varnish& Counseling.
  • Complete and pass the exam. Receive continuing education credits.
  • Maintain a copy of the successfully completed post assessment certificate employee records.

OLDIES BUT GOODIES

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 secur­ing 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.