My team and I are passionate about advancing oral health equity. Arcora Foundation’s mission is to bend the arc of oral health toward equity. The focus of our prevention and access work from our 2022-2024 strategic plan is in communities where disparities are significant—specifically Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).
Black History Month (Feb. 1 – March 1) celebrates achievements and underscores opportunities. This year’s theme is Black health and wellness. The opportunity for Black people to reach our full health potential is essential, which includes resources to prevent oral disease and access to dental care. Everyone deserves a healthy smile. But not everyone has one.
Data tell us disparities exist in oral disease prevention and oral health care access for Black people across the state. For example, among second and third graders, Black children experience untreated tooth decay at a rate of 18 percent. That is nearly twice the rate among white children—10 percent.
Through partnerships, programs, and other efforts, Arcora Foundation is helping more people—from all backgrounds and in all places across Washington state—enjoy good oral health.
Partnerships play a pivotal role.
We are excited to partner with Brittany Love to support healthy behaviors in communities of color. She is a fitness trainer focused on using movement and nutrition to promote self-care, self-love, and empowerment in Black and other communities of color. We recently awarded Love a grant to help her:
- Develop fitness videos that contain oral health messages.
- Distribute oral hygiene kits to help people experiencing homelessness.
Both projects will have a particular focus on BIPOC people across Western Washington.
Love believes everyone should have access to health and wellness resources. That is why she plans to make her fitness videos, which integrate oral health messages into her promotion of overall wellness, available for free online. Greater opportunities exist in communities of color that are underserved and under resourced.
“I want to give people as many tools as possible to be the best versions of themselves,” Love said.
Through her own health and wellness journey, Love came to understand the importance of a holistic approach to good health. Now, she wants to give back. Through partnerships with companies and organizations—like Arcora Foundation—she will help spread messages about good overall health to communities of color.
“Feeling good is a butterfly effect for other aspects of your life,” Love said.
Arcora Foundation’s partnership with Love is one example of our commitment to look for more ways to deepen our work and focus on different BIPOC populations in communities across the state to bridge the oral health equity gap. This approach reflects our strategic direction to lead with equity.
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Oral health is essential to overall health.
Oral disease is almost entirely preventable. An early start to good oral health habits is crucial for good overall health. Classroom instruction can be difficult if not impossible for a child suffering cavity pain. As an adult, it can be hard to get a job if you are missing teeth or keep a job if you are in pain from oral disease. The health of your mouth is one of the most visible indicators of economic inequality.
Oral health is essential to overall health. Research shows links between poor oral health and serious or potentially life-threatening conditions. A few examples:
- Heart disease.
- Pregnancy complications.
When more people have healthy smiles, everyone benefits. Kids thrive in the classroom. Adults have better job opportunities.
As we celebrate the richness of Black history this month and throughout the year, I encourage you to engage with work underway to ensure a healthier future for Black people and other communities of color.
President and CEO, Arcora Foundation