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Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children

For a child, the mouth is key for their growth and development, enabling them to eat and drink.
The mouth is also a window to their personalities, allowing them to talk with family, teachers, and peers and to reveal their moods through facial expressions.

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Dr. Janice Townsend, Chair of the LSU Department of Pediatric Dentistry, is particularly passionate about saving and maintaining children’s oral health.

“Most people don’t realize that dental disease is five times more prevalent in children than asthma,” Townsend said. “In fact, a recent survey published by the state Department of Health and Hospitals revealed that 65% of Louisiana’s third graders had experienced cavities and 41% had untreated dental disease.”

A healthy smile is the best gift you can give a child! Oral restoration can be very costly, and too many families have to choose between purchasing food or medicine and improving their oral health.

We are grateful to the foundations and other donors who help us bring these children back to a healthy smile.

Janice Townsend, DDS

Left untreated, dental decay can lead to infection and pain that can affect how a child speaks, eats (affecting overall growth and development), and their ability to concentrate in school. Unfortunately, lack of dental care is the reality for many children living in Louisiana, and what begins as a seemingly minor oral problem can turn into a visit to the emergency room with long-term health consequences. Uninsured children of the working poor in the New Orleans area face difficult obstacles to obtaining dental care.

The LSU Pediatric Dental Clinic provides children with the highest quality oral care. Dr. Townsend and her colleagues strive to make this care available to every child, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. She has partnered with foundations such as the Kool Smiles Foundation, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Healthy Children Healthy Smiles, the American Dental Association Foundation, and Delta Dental of Pennsylvania to secure funding to provide restorative oral health care and low-cost preventive care to as many children as possible. The Pediatric Dental Clinic is fortunate to have Dr. Suzanne Fournier, the only Spanish-speaking pediatric dentist in Southeast Louisiana, on staff. Dr. Fournier has been invaluable in helping to erase another frequent barrier to care, language differences.

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Dr. Suzanne Fournier, who is fluent in Spanish, is proud of the work at the LSU Health Pediatric Dental Clinic. Her language skills have helped prevent barriers to care.

Dr. Townsend and the students and residents in her clinic rely on the support of the generous donors to the LSU Health Foundation on behalf of the Pediatric Dental Clinic to provide top quality patient care to all who need it.