Although they’re preventable, cavities are the leading chronic childhood disease in America. Unfortunately, many low-income families lack basic dental hygiene products in their homes. When kids can’t brush every day to keep their smiles healthy, the pain of tooth decay can keep them from eating, sleeping, and attending school. Their poor oral hygiene habits contribute to the vicious cycle of poverty.
Through our nationwide Smile Drive campaign, volunteers help kids protect their teeth from decay by collecting oral care products for families in need and teaching their communities about the importance of healthy dental hygiene habits.
When kids can take care of their smiles, they perform better at school, lead healthier lives, have higher self-esteem, and experience more opportunities for future success. Since 2014, more than 2.2 million oral care items have been given to families in need thanks to our amazing volunteers and corporate partners!
Our 2021 Smile Drive campaign ran from July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021. Even through an exceptionally challenging year, our awesome Smile Drive volunteers and corporate partners came through—big time!—with a total of 185,257 dental hygiene products donated this year.
Thanks to generous product donations from SmileMakers, Crest, Oral-B and Zimba, 159 charitable organizations received toothbrushes and toothpaste through America’s ToothFairy.
In addition, Smile Drive volunteers across the nation distributed to another 95 organizations in their own communities. To date, a total of 254 nonprofit organizations have received dental hygiene products to distribute to the families that need them the most. Remaining items from our 2021 campaign are being delivered to organizations hosting back-to-school events.
Since COVID restrictions varied by state, Smile Drive volunteers had the option to hold in-person and Smile Drive-Thru collections or online campaigns (some did both!)
Throughout the year, 857 volunteers (including 501 Scouts) collected 34,255 oral care products to give to struggling families.
“I believe every child should have the opportunity to take care of their oral health. If I can provide the tools for preventing oral diseases, I think it's half the battle,” said volunteer Taheya Asad, of Ormond Beach, Florida. She collected 200 toothbrushes and toothpaste and included them in oral health treat bags that also contained brushing charts, a tooth coloring page, crayons and stickers, and donated them to local Head Start programs.
Girl Scout Troop 90115 in Bristow, Virginia collected 1,200 items, which they sorted into dental hygiene bags and donated to Haymarket Regional Food Pantry in Gainesville, Virginia.
“I've done food drives with my troops in the past but never this. We feel great about providing such a special need,” troop leader Erin Blankenship told us. “Since our girls are younger they cannot go to the store and buy, but they could talk about it and they could help sort materials into bags so that the food pantry can provide a family with toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss.”
Virtual Smile Drives
Volunteers who chose to raise funds online received access to free digital tools to track their Virtual Smile Drive donations from family and friends. Thanks to a matched giving offer from SmileMakers during National Children’s Dental Health Month in February, online donations made it possible to distribute more than 13,000 toothbrushes. Two Virtual Smile Drives stood out this year:
Jillian Miu of Jericho, New York raised $1,797 during her virtual campaign—enough money to donate more than 5,000 toothbrushes to the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center in New York City (pictured left). Jillian is part of her school's National Honor Society Chapter and told us, “I proposed this idea as a way to give back to our community. Most of our events this year were virtual, so this was perfect.”
Kristina Hyatt, a Registered Dental Hygienist from Cherokee, North Carolina raised $505 during her virtual drive and opted to split the donation of 1,500 toothbrushes between three organizations, Cherokee Central School, Snowbird Community Health of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and, the B.E.A.R Program in Pine Ridge, South Dakota.
SmileMakers has donated toothbrushes to benefit our Smile Drive since its beginning, and this year was no exception. The dental supply company located in Spartanburg, South Carolina generously gave 110,752 toothbrushes, which have been distributed to charity organizations across the country including non profit dental clinics, public health departments, schools in low-income communities, the Salvation Army, food banks, and many more organizations that serve families in need.
A portion of the toothbrushes were packed in education kits provided by our Smile Guardian initiative sponsors including Patterson Dental, Delta Dental, and Cleveland Smile Center. In addition to dental hygiene supplies, the kits included educational materials to help kids learn about the importance of healthy dental hygiene habits. Click here to learn more about becoming a Smile Guardian.
Official Smile Drive Sponsors: Crest + Oral-B
In December we partnered with Crest (and Santa!) as part of their 12 Days of Crest Smiles to identify Let’s Smile, Inc. and The Los Angeles Trust for Children’s Health to each receive 10,000 toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste along with $5,000 grants to support their missions. Read about their Smile Wishes here.
Crest was so pleased with the results that they signed on along with Oral-B to be the Official Smile Drive sponsors through December of 2021. To kick off the partnership we teamed up with actor Miles Brown to Conquer Cavities 2Gether!
The campaign encouraged families to pledge to brush for two minutes, twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. For every pledge, Crest and Oral-B Kids donated a Conquer Cavities kit that included toothpaste, toothbrushes and educational materials, to the children that are served through our Dental Resource Program.
In all, Crest and Oral-B generously donated 10,000 kits to Cass County Dental Clinic in Kansas City, Missouri, Mobile Care Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, FirstHealth Dental Care in Southern Pines, North Carolina, Gateway to Oral Health Foundation in St Louis, Missouri, and Just Kids Dental in Two Harbors, Minnesota. The clinics were thrilled to receive the donated product and shared photos of a few of the kids who can now keep their smiles healthy with proper home care.
America’s ToothFairy is grateful for the support of our generous donors and sponsors, and tremendously proud of our awesome volunteers who made our 2021 Smile Drive an outstanding success! We hope you’ll join with us this year to make Smile Drive 2022 even better. Learn more at SmileDrive.org.