The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) Office of Oral Health is partnering with the Arkansas Foodbank Network to provide more than 5,000 oral health kits to Arkansans in need. The oral health kits, which include toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss, will be available to the Foodbank’s member organizations beginning this fall.
“Oral health and proper nutrition are closely linked,” said Dr. Rachel Sizemore, ADH Director of the Office of Oral Health. “At the ADH Office of Oral Health, our priority is to help Arkansans take care of the teeth needed to digest healthy foods.”
According to America’s Health Rankings 2022 Annual Report, Arkansas ranks last in the nation for the percentage of adults who reported visiting a dentist or dental clinic within the past year. Arkansas also ranks 49th in the nation for the number of adults and children who are food insecure. Food insecurity is an important risk factor for poor oral health in people of all ages. Individuals who are food insecure are more likely to have unmet dental care needs, which can lead to infections, eating difficulties and tooth decay.
“At the Arkansas Foodbank, we know the correlation between dental health and food insecurity is influenced by various factors, including socioeconomic status, cultural factors, and individual behaviors,” said Chief Programs Officer, Melissa Cargile. “Through this partnership, we are able to promote oral hygiene habits for thousands of Arkansans facing hunger.”