Online Challenge Teaches Kids About Oral Health

Dentistry Today

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DentaQuest and America’s ToothFairy are teaming up to promote and expand participation in a free superhero-themed, at-home learning activity open to kids between the ages of 6 and 12 in the United States. Participants can win prizes including a Nintendo Switch gaming console while learning how to prevent the pain and expense of tooth decay.

With more young children engaged in remote or hybrid learning models, the partners said, there are fewer opportunities for nonprofit organizations and community partners to bring critical services and educational programs into traditional classrooms.

The Oral Health Action Hero Challenge, which will run through November 9, aims to bridge that gap by giving kids a fun way to learn about good oral health habits and win prizes from the convenience of their own homes. The organizations piloted the program this summer with about a hundred participants and will use what they learned to reboot the program this fall.

During the summer campaign, kids registered as “agents” to take on five educational “missions” to defeat the Evil DK and keep their smiles healthy. Participants also submitted videos about what they learned. Erik Gonzales, age 8, of Beaumont, Texas, won the Champion Crystal trophy. This time, agents will learn how to triumph over the villain BIO-FILM and his gang of bacteria.

“We learned a lot from the summer campaign, and we’re excited to make it available to a larger group of students in October. The timing makes sense for a number of reasons,” said Jill Malmgren, executive director at America’s ToothFairy.

“First, many students are settling into new remote learning routines and teachers and parents are looking for engaging educational activities that kids can complete independently. Second, October is National Dental Hygiene Month. And third, Halloween is a time when many kids overindulge in sweet treats, so now is a great time to be getting ahead of that and keeping them focused on good oral health,” said Malmgren.

“This campaign comes at a time that is critically important, and we want to help maximize participation,” said Steve Pollock, president and CEO of DentaQuest.

“We know that many school districts across the country have had to postpone school-based oral health programs due to COVID-19. For some students, these programs are their only source of dental care and only access point for healthcare in general,” said Pollock.

“If we can get more kids interested in learning about the importance of oral health, we’ll be making a big difference, and we applaud America’s ToothFairy for their leadership in preventing tooth decay through education,” said Pollock.

DentaQuest and the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement are working with communities across the country to find alternatives for critical oral healthcare amid the pandemic. The partnership with America’s ToothFairy is one good example of an alternative approach, DentaQuest said.

Other solutions include the increased use of teledentistry for children in need, setting up alternative access locations for children, and ensuring that proper infection control measures are incorporated in school settings where children can attend in person, DentaQuest said.

Children who participate in the fall Oral Health Action Hero Challenge will receive all materials electronically. Designed for children age 6 to 12, or in grades 1 through 7, the program is open to all who want to enter.

Participants will complete three “missions.” The first is to survey 10 people to see what they know about oral health. The second is to track their own dental hygiene routine for two weeks. The third is to record a short video sharing one thing they learned from the experience.

Participants will submit a short online report about their missions to be entered into a random drawing for prizes. Three finalists will be selected to win the grand prize, a Nintendo Switch or a $300 Nintendo, Xbox, or Playstation gift card from America’s ToothFairy. The grand prize winner will be determined through online voting. Official rules, a prize list, and registration can be found at americastoothfairykids.org.

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