More than half of Arizona’s kindergarten children have dental cavities, which is greater than the national average for 5-year-olds according to the Healthy Smiles Healthy Bodies Survey.
Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health (NOAH) and Delta Dental of Arizona want to ensure these children receive the oral health education they need to reduce the rate of cavities. Delta Dental of Arizona awarded NOAH a grant of $100,000 over two years to continue the Smiles for Kids school-based oral health program.
In the past, NOAH’s Smiles for Kids program provided in person oral health education, dental screenings, and fluoride varnish services to over 3,000 children at primarily Title 1 elementary schools in Deer Valley, Scottsdale, and Paradise Valley. To continue this important work while schools are unable to provide in-person learning, NOAH retooled the program to provide the educational component via video utilizing the funds from Delta Dental of Arizona.
“Poor oral health can negatively affect how a young mouth develops and leads to more than 50 million school hours being lost each year. It can also impact a child’s confidence, speech, nutrition, social skills, as well as potential for success later in life,” says Lou Sarrosa, DMD, NOAH Dental Director. “This grant not only allows us to treat thousands of low income and uninsured children who otherwise may not have access to dental services, it also gives us the opportunity to present dental education in a new and interactive platform for their families and provide them with important resources that can benefit the entire family.”
Students watch short videos on six separate oral health modules, take a quiz and electronically obtain parent permission to receive an oral health screening, fluoride varnish treatment and dental supplies once students return to school. Children can access the materials on a computer, tablet or phone.
“Delta Dental of Arizona is proud to support NOAH in their efforts to improve oral health in low income and uninsured communities in the Valley in this new and innovative way,” said Delta Dental of Arizona Chief Executive Officer Allan Allford. “Tooth decay, which is nearly 100 percent preventable, is still one of the most common chronic diseases for children, but through partnerships like this, we are tipping the scale in the right direction.”
In 2020, Delta Dental of Arizona distributed over $750,000 in grants to 34 Arizona community organizations serving high-risk children and families, and pregnant mothers.