Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation Smiles@School program to deliver over 50,000 dental health kits
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February 5th, 2024

Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation Smiles@School program to deliver over 50,000 dental health kits

MINNEAPOLIS (February 1, 2024) Governor Tim Walz has proclaimed February 2024 Children’s Dental Health Month in Minnesota. Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation is doing its part in February by delivering over 50,000 dental health kits and educational materials to first-graders across the state through the Smiles@School program.

Each dental health kit contains critical oral health resources: a toothbrush, fluoridated toothpaste, floss, a timer, a water bottle, an oral health educational booklet, and more. The Foundation is also providing an educational video to teachers and nurses on the importance of oral health featuring Dr. Eileen Crespo, a practicing pediatrician and Vice President of Medical Services at Delta Dental of Minnesota.

“Children who have good oral health often miss less school and receive better grades than children who don’t,” said Dr. Crespo. “Starting good oral health habits early can help lay the foundation for better overall health, well-being, and success in life.”

Improving oral health awareness. Improving oral health awareness and access to care are key components to the mission of Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation. According to health experts:

  • students in America lose 51 million school hours per year due to dental illness;
  • dental care is a top unmet healthcare need for children in America;
  • 1 out of every 5 third-graders in Minnesota have untreated tooth decay; and
  • dental caries, also known as cavities or tooth decay, is the most prevalent chronic infectious disease in children

Preventive dental care. Optimal oral health starting in childhood and continuing in adulthood has been associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and other negative health outcomes. Children with good oral health are more likely to succeed in school, as well. Tooth decay and oral disease can also cause serious pain, affecting a child’s self-esteem and their ability to eat, speak and sleep. By treating oral health as preventive health, Minnesota can better position children to thrive.

Program impact. 2024 will be the most successful year of the Smiles@School program to date. In 2024, Smiles@School will serve over 600 schools in Minnesota, a more than 50% increase from the previous year. The program will deliver dental health kits and education in each of Minnesota’s 87 counties this year and experienced significant growth in both greater Minnesota and the metro. Over half of the teachers surveyed in 2023 indicate that their school had no oral health education prior to introducing the Smiles@School program.

“We want to thank all of the teachers, school nurses, and educators that are participating in Smiles@School and helping to improve oral health awareness for students in Minnesota,” said Stephanie Albert, President of the Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation.

“Children’s Dental Health Month is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of oral health for Minnesota children and the Minnesota Dental Association is proud to stand with partners in the dental community as we work toward the common goal of improving health in our communities,” said Carmelo Cinqueonce, Executive Director of the Minnesota Dental Association.

To learn more about the Smiles@School program, visit the Smiles@School website at

About Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation

Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation supports optimal oral and overall health outcomes while advancing social equities by expanding access to dental care and investing in the communities across Minnesota.