Why participate in smiles at school?
Delta Dental of Minnesota

Why participate in smiles at school?

About the program:

[email protected] is a statewide initiative funded by Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation to support children’s oral health through education, prevention and dental sealant programs in schools. The [email protected] first-grade program, now in its fourth year, supplies first-graders across Minnesota with oral health supplies and education materials at the beginning of the school year, at no cost. The goal of this program is to remind students and parents about the importance of oral health.

First grade is a great time to teach the importance of basic oral hygiene to children. These skills will help them to avoid dental problems that could cause pain, interfere with their performance at school, reduce attendance and decrease overall productivity. Providing these tools and education helps promote lifelong oral health.

  • Dental disease is five times more prevalent than asthma and seven times more common than allergies like hay fever
  • More than 51 million school hours are lost each year due to dental disease, leading to increases in educational disparity and decreases in productivity
  • An estimated one in four U.S. children ages 5 to 11 may be affected by tooth decay, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Preventive treatments—many of which can be offered in schools—such as fluoride varnish and sealants have been shown to prevent an additional 33% of decay on primary teeth

Impact of Tooth Decay:

  • A national survey found that roughly one in seven children ages 6-12 had suffered a toothache in the previous six months
  • Children with poor oral health were nearly three times more likely to miss school due to dental pain, (according to a North Carolina study).
  • (In a Los Angeles study), dental problems have been found to be responsible for about 1/3 of elementary school absences, among children from economically vulnerable families.

Impacts of the Program

  • 180,000 students have participated since the program began in 2016.
  • 41,790 students will receive backpacks in 2019.
  • 517 schools registered for the program this year.

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