Good nutrition is essential to oral health. However, the costs of fresh produce prevent people of all income levels from meeting their daily recommended servings. To celebrate National Smile Month and Smile Power Day on June 15, Delta Dental of Wisconsin is contributing healthy food and toothbrushes to 5 food pantries across the state. Its employees also are volunteering at pantries and community gardens with a goal of improving the state’s oral health.
“Most people recognize that foods packed with vitamins and minerals lead to better health outcomes, but few realize the impact these foods have in averting gum disease and tooth decay,” said Fred Eichmiller, DDS, vice president and science officer of Delta Dental of Wisconsin. “Take carrots, for instance, which help in saliva production to prevent dry mouth and come packed with vitamin A to strengthen enamel.”
Each pantry will receive $1,000 in fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy products in addition to 1,000 toothbrushes. Delta Dental also is providing $2,000 grants for each pantry to restock nutritious perishable foods for the rest of the year. The recipients will include the Salvation Army Food Pantries in Appleton and Milwaukee, the Dane County Food Pantry Network in Madison, the St. Francis Food Pantry in Eau Claire, and the Neighbors Place in Wausau.
Plus, Delta Dental is encouraging Wisconsin residents to improve their own oral health and the oral health of others. For example, residents can grow their own fruits and vegetables. When their gardens are bountiful, they can donate their harvests to local pantries. Or, residents can volunteer at local pantries or community gardens. Whatever their efforts, these helpful residents can share their work on social media with the hashtag #GrowWISmiles.