Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation Brings Oral Health Education to Classrooms Across the State
Nearly 59,000 students at more than 600 schools to benefit from Smiles@School program
MINNEAPOLIS – Beginning this week, first-grade students across the state will be treated to oral health education in their classrooms, helping to build healthy smiles for Halloween and in the years to come. It’s part of Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation’s Smiles@School program.
In partnership with more than 600 schools and local dental care providers, Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation will provide 55,000 first-graders with sports backpacks filled with tools to help them care for their teeth, including a toothbrush, fluoridated toothpaste, water bottle, educational booklet, and other fun items. In addition, an estimated 4,000 at-risk schoolchildren will receive dental sealants and fluoride through in-school treatments, which have been shown to prevent an additional 33 percent of tooth decay, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Despite easy prevention, tooth decay is the most common childhood disease – even more common than asthma or allergies,” said Joe Lally, Executive Director of Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation. “School-based programs are a proven method of delivering important information during critical habitforming years. We’re grateful to our community partners and local teachers who help instill these healthy habits early”
Half of Minnesota’s third-graders have experienced tooth decay, which disproportionately affects children from low-income families and makes concentrating on learning difficult. Nationally, more than 51 million school hours are lost each year due to dental disease. With sealants, fluoride and education, Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation aims to eliminate tooth decay in school-age children.
In sustaining this first-grade program component, Smiles@School strategically engages students as they grow and establish important health habits. By offering education in first grade, prevention in second grade, and measurement of oral health improvements in third grade through a Minnesota Department of Health-administered survey, which is partially funded by Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation, students are well on their way to healthier futures.
To learn more about Smiles@School, visit DeltaDentalMN.org/smiles-at-school.
Additional information on children’s oral health is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/children_adults/child.htm#2.
About Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation:
In 2009, Delta Dental of Minnesota’s parent sold a company and used 100 percent of the proceeds to establish and fund Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation. Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation supports Delta Dental of Minnesota’s mission of improving the health of Minnesotans through oral health. Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation works to expand access to dental care for Minnesota’s underserved populations across the state by primarily investing in programs and organizations that