PHOENIX, Ariz. (May 16, 2018) - A foundation of good oral health habits starts with educating children at a very early age, and in some populations, that is not the case. For under-served Latino communities, many times oral health education is not an emphasis, and tooth decay runs rampant. But thanks to a $25K grant from Delta Dental of Arizona through its foundation, Esperança’s health educators are able to conduct workshops in Title 1 school districts throughout Metro Phoenix to teach children how to care for their teeth.
Esperança’s bilingual and bicultural health educators provide both valuable education, as well as referrals for free or low-cost dental care to uninsured and underinsured children and families in Phoenix. Sessions take place in community-based dental clinics, schools and other appropriate locations that serve the target population. Esperança projects to serve roughly 12,000 children over the next three years.
According to Jeri Royce, Esperança’s chief executive officer, “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. 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.”
Partner districts include Roosevelt, Murphy, Isaac, Alhambra, Washington, Tolleson, Osborn and Phoenix Union School Districts. Appropriate lessons, visual aids, activities and evaluations have been compiled from those provided by the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation; Colgate’s Bright Smiles, Bright Futures; Lessons in a Lunchbox; and more, to form age-appropriate curricula.
In addition to increasing oral health literacy, children and adults receive Smile Bags with tooth brushes, toothpaste, floss and brushing timers that provide them the tools to implement the oral health daily practices that they learned. As importantly, health educators refer children and adults to partnering no- and low-cost dental clinic 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, Chief Executive Officer at Delta Dental of Arizona. “We believe in Esperança’s approach to improving children’s oral heath in Arizona by providing educational opportunities to our youth and are proud to support them in their mission.”
For more information on Esperança and their oral health initiatives, please visit www.WeTransformLives.org.