The Tooth Fairy is the face of any and all tooth-related magic for gap-toothed kids. We don’t doubt that this bicuspid scavenger can wave a mean wand (hey, we have to maintain the tale for future generations), but a Colorado nonprofit is working some even fiercer magic.
Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation’s “Brush With Me” campaign, which launched in April, aims to educate families about the importance of taking care of kids’ teeth. The goal: drastically reducing child tooth decay. There’s endless chatter around childhood obesity, but dental disease remains a silent menace that effects nearly 600,000 children before they start kindergarten and 53 percent of low-income kindergarteners. Tooth decay is the most chronic childhood disease—it’s four times more common than early childhood obesity—despite being almost entirely preventable.
Delta Dental’s multi-year public awareness initiative hopes to combat that by encouraging parents to make brushing teeth a family activity. “There are a lot of misconceptions and a real lack of education about the fact that cavities are almost entirely preventable,” says Barbara Springer, executive director of the foundation.
The campaign also shines the spotlight on one of the most unlikely culprits of tooth decay: sippy cups. “Kids like to walk around with sippy cups all day, so they’re bathing their teeth in whatever that fluid is,” Springer says. “The only fluid that’s okay to bathe a tooth in 24/7 is water.”
Plaque-ridden statistics keep rolling in: The average number of cavities in a three-year-old seen at Denver Health Medical center is 11 and Colorado children miss almost eight million hours of school annually due to oral pain. It seems that “Brush With Me” couldn’t have launched at a better time. We all want to see our kids smile. Let’s make sure it’s a healthy one.
ADVICE FROM A PROFESSIONAL
Karen Savoie, a dental hygienist and head of Cavity Free at Three, another Colorado effort to promote healthy teeth, offers parents three simple tips to keep children cavity-free:
- Parents should brush their teeth, and their children’s teeth, twice a day.
- Avoid putting sugary drinks—juice, milk, sport drinks—into sippy cups.
- Take your child to the dentist before his or her first birthday.
In the know: Check out “Get Well” from our April issue for more on five major health issues—including dental well-being—affecting Colorado children.
—Image courtesy of Brush With Me