Program engages students in oral health education, dental career exploration
Bloomington, Ind.—Sparking interest in the dental profession and educating children about good oral health is the focus of collaboration between the Indiana University (IU) School of Dentistry and America’s ToothFairy: National Children’s Oral Health Foundation.
The program is funded by a $25,000 grant from the Delta Dental Foundation and if focused on engaging local youth from area high schools and IU.
The effort involves equipping older students with ToothFairy Community Education Kits to provide oral health education to underserved children in their communities. The program also engages high school students in oral health promotion through the America’s ToothFairy #MySmileMatters Youth Movement and creates opportunities for career exploration.
IU students, including Jayme McCormick have been active with America’s ToothFairy, holding outreach events nearly every month.
“The kit was very helpful to show the kids why taking care of your teeth is important, and with the older children it was helpful to show them the progression of caries,” McCormick said. “We used the pictures to tell a story, which I think helped to keep the children involved in the session.”
Students will plan and guide community activities focused on positive oral health, advocate through social media and collect toothbrushes and toothpaste for underserved children through the America’s ToothFairy Smile Drive.
“It’s a win for everyone involved,” said Teri Battaglieri, Director of the Delta Dental Foundation. “We are providing students with oral health resources to use with children in their communities, and we’re also creating mentoring opportunities for students interested in pursuing careers in dentistry.”
“As witnessed with causes such as youth substance use prevention, when youth are passionate about a cause and become advocates, they can be extremely powerful in driving change,” said Fern Ingber, President and CEO for America’s ToothFairy: National Children’s Oral Health Foundation. “America’s ToothFairy focuses the efforts of students on achievable objectives and provides step-by-step plans, resources and incentives to guide them in making a positive impact in their community.”
About Delta Dental Foundation
The Delta Dental Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization established in 1980, which serves as the philanthropic arm of Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and North Carolina. The Foundation’s goals are to support education and research for the advancement of dental science and to promote the oral health of the public through education and service activities, particularly for those with special needs. For more information, visit www.deltadentalin.com.
About America’s ToothFairy: National Children’s Oral Health Foundation®
America’s ToothFairy: National Children’s Oral Health Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness of one of the most prevalent chronic childhood illnesses: pediatric dental disease, facilitating the delivery of comprehensive oral health services and improving quality of life for underserved children. Through the #MySmileMatters Youth Movement, collaborative partnerships with a diverse array of national service organizations, growing network of non-profit clinical partners, dedicated professional and student volunteers, and suite of high-impact community education and service programs, America’s ToothFairy is building a powerful, united effort to eliminate tooth decay and protect the smiles of our most vulnerable children. For more information, visit www.AmericasToothFairy.org.