A $25,000 grant from Delta Dental of Arizona will help Esperança conduct workshops in Title 1 school districts throughout the metro Phoenix area to teach otherwise underserved children how to care for their teeth. Esperança’s bilingual and bicultural health educators also provide referrals for free or low-cost dental care to uninsured and under-insured children and families in the area. The organization expects to serve about 12,000 children over the next three years.
“Poor oral health is surprisingly prevalent in the communities we serve and leads to many health issues that most people don’t associate with brushing their teeth,” said Esperança CEO Jeri Royce. “Oral health is directly related to chronic disease, and both are at a disproportionately high rate due to economic and language barriers in many Phoenix communities.
Appropriate lessons, visual aids, activities, and evaluations have been compiled from those provided by America’s ToothFairy: The National Children’s Oral Health Foundation; Colgate’s Bright Smiles, Bright Futures; Lessons in a Lunchbox; and more to form age-appropriate curricula. Lessons will be held in community-based dental clinics, schools, and other appropriate locations serving the target population.
In addition to increasing oral health literacy, children and adults receive Smile Bags with toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, and brushing timers to implement the daily oral health practices that they have learned. Also, participants are referred to partnering no-cost and low-cost dental clinics for direct dental services, including comprehensive preventive and restorative care.
“Tooth decay, which is largely preventable, remains one of the most common chronic diseases for children,” said Allan Allford, CEO of Delta Dental of Arizona. “We believe in Esperança’s approach to improving children’s oral health in Arizona by providing educational opportunities to our youth and are proud to support them in their mission.”