DentaQuest, part of Sun Life U.S., recognizes and celebrates National Children’s Dental Health Month, a time when oral health professionals, health care providers and educators work together to promote the benefits of good oral health to children and their support systems.
Though the February observance is almost over, DentaQuest will continue support for and celebration of the ongoing, important work to promote children’s oral health beyond the annual observance.
In alignment with its commitment to oral health education and expanded access to care, DentaQuest recently announced the latest national campaign in partnership with America’s ToothFairy to raise awareness about oral health disparities in marginalized communities and steps to close the gap. The campaign includes free, downloadable educational materials for students and parents, a free social media kit for oral health advocates, an educational website, ShareYourSmileCampaign.org and a joke contest for kids to share smiles with others throughout the month.
DentaQuest also supports community-based organizations that are already reaching people in need. For example, Whiz Kids, an Oklahoma City-based tutoring and mentoring program works to reduce the opportunity gap for students through one-on-one literacy support. This year, DentaQuest is helping kickoff Whiz Kids’ oral health literacy initiative to teach the important connection between oral health, literacy and reaching success in adulthood. In Los Angeles County, DentaQuest is supporting the Brush it Up campaign of the Los Angeles Trust for Children’s Health. This weeklong peer-to-peer project is focused on dental health awareness and engaging children with videos, challenges, and social media.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dental caries (cavities) is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases. In fact, more than half of children ages 6 to 8 have had a cavity in at least one of their baby teeth, and more than half of adolescents ages 12 to 19 have had a cavity in at least one of their permanent teeth. If left untreated, cavities can lead to unnecessary pain and infections and result in serious consequences, such as problems eating, speaking and learning.
“People often disregard children’s oral health and consider it unimportant because they think baby teeth fall out, but they don’t know that the bacteria that cause cavities remains,” said Amber Bonnaig, DDS, DentaQuest. “Children across the country — especially children of color — suffer from untreated tooth decay and don’t have the tools or access to services that can help them improve or even reverse the damage.”
Children from low-income families in the U.S. are twice as likely to have untreated cavities as those from higher income families. And, according to the PEW Research Center, more than 40% of preschool-aged American Indian and Alaska Native children have untreated decay, compared to roughly 20% of Black and Hispanic children and 11% of white children. With high barriers to care, it is important that parents and caregivers have the necessary support to encourage good oral health practices at home.
“I tell parents and caregivers to remember that tooth decay and the resulting consequences are preventable,” Bonnaig said. “Parents can set the foundation for good oral health by promoting effective dental hygiene habits as early as possible. You can make that first dentist appointment by age 1 or when the first tooth comes in. You can read books about teeth brushing. But ultimately, the best thing anyone can do is get connected to a dental provider for help identifying what works for you and your child.”
DentaQuest, part of Sun Life U.S., is a purpose-driven health care company dedicated to improving the oral health of all. We do this through Preventistry® — our inclusive approach to quality care and expanded access built on trusted partnerships between patients, providers and payors. As one of the nation’s largest and most experienced Medicaid dental benefits administrators, we manage dental and vision benefits for more than 33 million Americans through a nationwide network of providers in all 50 states. Our outcomes-based, cost-effective dental solutions are designed for Medicaid and CHIP, Medicare Advantage, small and large businesses, and individuals. At the same time, we are expanding our footprint of more than 70 oral health centers in six states to deliver direct patient care in rural and underserved populations. Learn more at www.DentaQuest.com and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
The newsletter designed for anyone who wants to improve oral health for themselves, their families, customers or communities.