2020 was a challenging year for everyone, but especially for kids that depend on their schools for more than just an education. Unfortunately for them, the nonprofit dental organizations that partner with their schools were unable to provide important on-site screenings, oral health education, and other necessary services. To make matters worse, these organizations are struggling to survive the economic impact of the pandemic.
To end the year with a smile, we partnered with Crest during their “12 Days of Crest Smiles” campaign to identify two worthy organizations to receive a $5,000 grant as well as 10,000 toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste to distribute to the kids they serve. We reached out to two members of our Dental Resource Program that we knew were doing important outreach to schools and asked them to make a Smile Wish.
The Los Angeles Trust for Children’s Health (LA Trust) works with the L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD) to provide dental health screenings and education to early education centers and elementary schools. Before the pandemic hit, nearly 80% of the children they served were from low-income families. Aware that the pandemic exacerbated the needs of this high-need population, LA Trust’s Executive Director, Maryjane Puffer knew that even more families would struggle to meet basic needs.
“Pre-pandemic, our data showed that of the children served in our program, 50% needed to see a dentist within one month to address an urgent need,” Maryjane told us. When dental services shut down due to the pandemic, both providers and advocates struggled to determine how to get the most effective support to families. This likely resulted in further dental disease among children across LAUSD.
“The donations of toothbrushes, toothpaste, and other oral health products that we received from America’s ToothFairy helped us to provide interim support for preventive activities—such as brushing and flossing—as we could not provide the direct dental screenings and follow-up.”
With the Smile Wish grant, Maryjane and her team worked with LAUSD’s operations team to hold “Operation Tooth Fairy” at three schools. Donning tooth fairy costumes, the team set up a drive-through distribution of Crest products along with oral health education materials, and information on where to access dental services to families in need.
“On behalf of the staff of the LA Trust, we are grateful to America’s ToothFairy and Crest,” Maryjane continued. “Especially during these challenging times, this investment in preventive dental items and oral health education across the country is crucial. Thank you for being a continued partner in supporting our oral health work in Los Angeles.”
Maryjane anticipates that their most needed dental items in the upcoming year will be toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash. You can help kids in need in the Los Angeles area or in your local community by holding a Smile Drive to collect these needed items. Learn more at SmileDrive.org.
Let’s Smile provides oral health education and clinical preventive services in non-traditional settings including elementary schools in Owatonna, Minnesota and the surrounding area. Their Executive Director, Holly Jorgensen (aka "The Smile Fairy") had been using her own car and needed a much larger vehicle to carry all the resources and equipment needed to deliver care.
Holly was able to use the grant from Crest to help purchase a new "Molar Roller" vehicle to deliver clinical preventive dental services, deliver clinical preventive dental services, such as sealants, prophylaxis, and fluoride treatments to twenty-six school-based dental clinics throughout southeastern Minnesota.
“We are so grateful that you support our mission and goals to make sure that every single child can receive dental healthcare services,” Holly told us. “Preschool children saw our Molar Roller pull up to the door of their school and they started jumping up and down in excitement knowing that their oral health pep rally was about to begin!”
She’s not exaggerating! Holly’s dental hygiene presentation is very theatrical and loved by the young students. She gets them excited about taking care of their smiles.
Holly and her team also received 10,000 oral care items from Crest to distribute to communities in need. “The gratitude from the teenagers that receive the donated Crest 3D White Fluoride Anticavity Toothpaste and the Oral-B Charcoal toothbrushes is expressed in their words of thanks and the smiles on their faces.” Holly said. “You are definitely making a positive impact on people’s lives.”