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Chicago Smiles Initiative Focuses on Education and Preventing Decay

May 8, 2018

Sixty three percent of third graders living in or around Chicago have cavities and more than half go untreated. This rate is significantly higher than the national average of 18% in all children over the age of five, showing there is a significant lack of awareness about oral health among families. Parents and caregivers are unaware of the importance of baby teeth and misconceptions about the value of prevention and the risks of delaying care. As a result, dental disease is threatening the health, welfare and future of these children.

Compounding the problem, low-income families face tremendous obstacles in accessing dental care, which include low oral health literacy, financial hardship, lack of transportation, limited clinic hours, difficulty identifying dental providers who can provide preventive and follow up care, and a low number of providers. That’s where America’s ToothFairy can help. Our Chicago Smiles Initiative will help efforts to overcome significant barriers faced by underserved families in Chicago and surrounding areas with an emphasis on the education of grandparents, parents and other adult caregivers. GC America has signed on as Title Sponsor of the Chicago Smiles Initiative to help grow the program.

“GC America has already worked with Chicago-area schools to support oral health educational programming for students,” said Steve Fletcher, CEO of GC America. “We are excited to work with America’s ToothFairy to make sure families in Chicago and beyond have the tools and information to reinforce those lessons at home.”

According to the most recent data, the total dental expenses for U.S. children aged 5-17 years are approximately $21 billion, with nearly 42% of dental costs paid out of pocket. When efforts are focused on restorative care, rather than prevention, we create a revolving door of “drill, fill and pull” where children access dental services only when in severe pain or after more invasive and expensive treatment becomes necessary. By concentrating on prevention, the Chicago Smiles Initiative will educate caregivers and reinforce the importance of oral health for the entire family, while also helping support service delivery for thousands of families. By preventing the occurrence of decay and seeking treatment for cavities and other oral health issues early on, the program hopes to break this cycle and reduce the impact that poor oral health has on children well into their adult lives.

“We are focused on access to care, prevention and education,” said Jill Malmgren, Executive Director of America's ToothFairy. “We are very grateful for GC America’s continued support and value their partnership in improving children’s oral health outcomes.”

As an America’s ToothFairy underwriter and Title Sponsor of this initiative, GC America is helping to ensure children and their caregivers throughout Chicago and beyond have healthy smiles and good oral health. You can learn more about GC America at gcamerica.com.

Theresa Orowick, RDH, and Inside Sales for GC America, delivers oral health education to students at a school in Alsip, IL with materials provided by America’s ToothFairy.

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