Twelve health centers in Louisiana will share $4.3 million in federal funds targeted at increasing access to dental health care in the state by hiring more specialists to see more underserved patients.

Five of the centers are in the New Orleans area, two in Baton Rouge and one each in Houma, Franklin, Shreveport, Delhi and Winnfield.

Lack of access to preventive and routine dental care can result in dental conditions requiring more costly emergency dental treatment. Oral health problems also can be a sign of illness elsewhere in the body.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said nearly $156 million in funding will support 420 health centers in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

The Health Resources and Services Administration health centers will be able to increase their oral health service capacity by hiring about 1,600 new dentists, dental hygienists, assistants, aides and technicians to treat nearly 785,000 new patients.

“Oral health is an important part of our overall physical health and well-being,” Burwell said. “The funding we are awarding will reduce barriers to quality dental care for hundreds of thousands of Americans by bringing new oral health providers to health centers across the country.”

The centers receiving funds are Capitol City Family Health Center Inc. and HIV/AIDS Alliance For Region 2 Inc., $350,000 each, both in Baton Rouge; Excelth Inc., $525,000,

Marillac Community Health Centers and New Orleans Aids Task Force, $350,000 each, all in New Orleans; Jefferson Community Health Care Centers Inc., $350,000, Avondale; St. Charles Community Health Center Inc., $350,000, Luling; Start Corp., $286,433, Houma; Teche Action Board, $350,000, Franklin; CASSE Dental Health Institute, $350,000, Shreveport; Richland Parish, $350,000; and Winn Community Health Center, $350,000, Winnfield.