Free Backpacks, Dental Lesson Plans Make Their Way to 55,000 Minnesota First-graders
Delta Dental of Minnesota

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September 12th, 2016

Free Backpacks, Dental Lesson Plans Make Their Way to 55,000 Minnesota First-graders

Initiative a part of the Smiles at School program, which also offers tooth sealants to secondgraders in need

MINNEAPOLIS – Today, more than 55,000 backpacks filled with fun oral health items will begin making their way to nearly every single first-grader in Minnesota. Their teachers – representing more than 700 schools in every corner of the state – will receive free lesson plans and worksheets.

Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation is launching the first-grade initiative this year as part of its collaborative Smiles at School program which, since 2012, has provided dental sealants to more than 8,000 second-graders at risk for tooth decay. The foundation expects to provide inschool sealant services to an additional 5,000 second-graders in need throughout this school year.

“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. “Half of Minnesota’s third-graders have experienced tooth decay, which disproportionately affects children from low-income families and makes concentrating on learning difficult. With sealants, fluoride and education, we could eliminate tooth decay in school-age children.”

The backpack will include tools to help students care for their teeth, including a toothbrush, fluoridated toothpaste, water bottle, educational booklet, and other fun items. First-grade teachers will also receive engaging lesson plans and activity sheets for use in their classrooms. Lesson plans, activity sheets, and educational videos are available for free online at

With the launch of the first-grade component, Smiles at School hopes to make use of a threetiered process: Offering education in first grade; prevention in second grade; and measurement of oral health improvements in third grade through a Minnesota Department of Healthadministered survey, which is partially funded by Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation. To learn more about Smiles at School, visit

About Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation:

Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation supports Delta Dental of Minnesota’s mission of improving the health of the people in Minnesota through oral health. The Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation supports initiatives that promote access to oral health for the underserved, especially in rural areas and for people living with low incomes across the state. The foundation began in 2009 and was funded by the sale proceeds of a company affiliated with Delta Dental of Minnesota.