Dental and Oral Health in Wyoming

Wang, Young
Oral health is a global issue that affects every living person. The mouth can be considered the beginning of overall health since all ingested foods must first go through the mouth, except in very unique circumstances. Oral health does not operate in a vacuum. It is interconnected with many different aspects of life, such as chronic diseases, the quality of life, and other social factors. This holds true for even the least populated state in the nation: Wyoming. Efforts to improve oral health in Wyoming include the WYDENT and WICHE programs, which incentivize Wyoming residents to pursue dentistry as a career and establish a practice in Wyoming; the Wyoming Healthcare Professional Loan Repayment Program; Wyoming Health Centers; and the Downtown Clinic in Laramie, WY. The Downtown Clinic offers free emergency dental care to eligible patients, but is exclusive to Albany county residents. I volunteered my time at the Downtown Clinic by cross-referencing the medical files with those who had also received dental care. My goal was to find common risk factors among patients, and eventually help the Downtown Clinic set up a method to track patients who need dental care the most. By establishing high risk factors for poor oral health, I hope to help the Downtown Clinic incorporate preventive dentistry to reduce future costs of emergency care.
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