The videos are the result of a partnership between a UCLA-led consortium called More LA Smiles and Sesame Street in Communities. They’re designed to make toothbrushing fun for kids while including pointers on proper brushing technique.
More LA Smiles began working with Sesame Street in Communities in 2019. In addition to the videos, the partners have hosted oral health educational activities at Los Angeles schools and clinics, complete with a life-sized Grover.
But with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, alternatives to in-person outreach became a priority, according to Jim Crall, DDS, MS, ScD, a professor of public health and community dentistry at the UCLA School of Dentistry and program director of More LA Smiles.
“The pandemic has disrupted regular dental checkups and in-person oral health education activities in dental offices, clinics, and schools. The digital treasures we’ve created are ideal for reaching an age group that is spending more time at home and online,” Crall said.
“We see these videos as not only motivational tools for parents to instill healthy habits in their children, but resources that can be enjoyed for years to come,” he said.
A leading expert on children’s oral health policy, Crall received funding in 2017 as part of the Medi-Cal 2020 Dental Transformation Initiative to establish More LA Smiles, UCLA said. The organization aims to improve the oral health of 500,000 Los Angeles County Medi-Cal beneficiaries in dental, medical, and community settings.
“Sesame Street in Communities really listens to early childhood development experts about what messages need to be communicated and weaves in their magic and creativity to effectively bring those messages to families,” said Crall.
“We’re very happy to be partnering with such a respected organization to positively impact the oral health of communities throughout Los Angeles and beyond,” he said.
Based on the success of a previous Elmo dental care video, expectations for the new videos are high, UCLA said. “Elmo’s Brushy Brush,” posted on YouTube in February 2012, has reached more than 1.2 billion views, making it the most viewed Sesame Street video ever.