For kids who struggle to get the dental services they need to be healthy, receiving a simple toothbrush is a reason to cheer. But thanks to generous donors who gave in 2023,* we have provided so much more than that!
This year nearly 1.3 MILLION kids and caregivers living with restricted access to care in communities across the country received dental care and/or oral health instruction through our programs and the safety-net dental clinics we support. That's a wonderful cause for celebration!
Below you will find highlights from our Access to Care programs and Health Education Resources & Outreach (HERO) programs, a few stories from kids who benefitted, and testimonies from our program members who are saving smiles every day.
The staff at KinderSmile Oral Health Center in Bloomfield, New Jersey are passionate about providing dental care for children who would otherwise fall through the cracks. Like America’s ToothFairy, they envision a future where every child has access to a dentist and preventable dental diseases are eradicated. That’s why they were especially concerned about Millie.**
Her parents had noticed cavities forming in the five year-old’s teeth but they had put off seeking treatment. Since they didn’t qualify for Medicaid but still couldn’t afford a private dental plan, they hoped her baby teeth would fall out before the decay became a serious issue. Unfortunately, Millie began to complain about pain, especially at bedtime.
Millie’s parents brought her to KinderSmile expecting to have the troublesome teeth pulled. While she was there, the dental team provided Millie with a free prophylaxis cleaning, exam, fluoride, caries risk assessment, oral health education, and nutritional education. They discovered rampant decay on 13 of her teeth, including two that would require pulpotomies and crowns. They convinced Millie’s parents that her teeth were essential to her overall health and development. Then they reached out to America’s ToothFairy for help.
Thanks to a generous donor who supported an In the Gap grant, KinderSmile provided the care Millie needed to restore her smile to good health. Equally important, now Millie has a dental home where she can receive routine and preventive dental services.
Her family has been empowered to avoid future decay. Because of this, Millie has a better chance of growing up with a smile she can share with the world—a smile that will help open more doors of opportunity for future success!
Thanks to the caring individuals who gave to support our In the Gap Program and Tomorrow’s Smiles initiative, we saw 73% growth in the number of under-insured kids and teens who received grants to pay for restorative care that cost more than their families could afford.
One of those recipients was 17 year-old Everett,** who had never seen a dentist before he came to Piedmont Regional Dental Clinic (PRDC) in Orange, VA earlier this year. An abscess had grown on his gums causing the left side of his face to become extremely swollen and cause him extreme pain. In addition to that, Everett had decay on nine teeth—one so severe that it needed to be extracted.
As a teenager he was embarrassed about his teeth and really wanted them taken care of. Although PRDC offered his family reduced rates for his dental work, they couldn't afford it and Everett left untreated.
But PRDC didn't give up. They applied for grant on behalf of Everett. When they called his mother to let her know that his care would be paid for by a donor, she couldn't believe it. She and Everett were thrilled.
After receiving the care he needed Everett said, "Ever since I got my fillings done, I have been feeling really good. It also makes me feel really nice knowing that there are people out there willing to help because if it wasn't for them, I probably would've never got this work done."
Read more about some of the kids and teens who have received grants for treatment on our Stories of Impact page.
In addition to grants for kids in need of care that costs more than their families can afford, our donors increase access to dental care by supporting community outreach events and school-based care, and providing donated dental equipment and supplies that help our members stretch their budgets to provide dental care for more kids. Here are a few highlights from 2023:
Our generous supporters helped us break records this year so that 27% MORE kids could receive clinical treatment services at the safety-net dental clinics that participate in our Dental Resource Program!
—Dr. Sharon Harrell, FirstHealth Dental Care, Southern Pines, NC
Thanks to generous donations from Shofu, Septodont, SS White, Cosmedent, SmileMakers, Crest, and Colgate, we had a record-breaking year for the value of products donated! More than 2 million dollars worth of dental supplies and equipment were distributed to our program members, helping them provide high-quality dental care for kids who usually must go without.
Kali Dahmus from Ready, Set, Smile (RSS) in Minneapolis, MN recently told us, "Our mission is to empower children to take care of their oral health. America's ToothFairy product donations have made this possible." RSS provides each child in their school-based program with a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss to take home.
"While walking with one child in our program," Kali said, "I asked if she brushed her teeth this morning. She answered 'no' as she didn't have a toothbrush. I told her that she would be getting a toothbrush that day and asked if she would brush her teeth that night. She enthusiastically, answered 'yes!'"
Toothbrushes and paste are two of our most-requested products. Despite being the first line of defense against tooth decay, children in low-income homes or families with low oral health literacy often lack dental hygiene supplies. Donated supplies from SmileMakers, Crest, and Colgate in addition to the supplies collected by Smile Drive volunteers provided more than 90 thousand oral care products for families in need this year. (Read more about that here.)
Children from low-income homes, rural communities, racial minorities, and those with physical or intellectual disabilities face many barriers to dental care, including fear of the dentist due to previous uncomfortable treatments.
That's why we work to procure the same high-quality dental supplies and equipment that private practices have access to so that our members remove common barriers to dental care, including discomfort.
When our program members have the supplies they need to provide pain-free dental procedures, their patients are much more likely to return for routine and preventive treatments. This is especially important in low-income communities where children suffer from twice the rate of untreated tooth decay.
In the last year America’s ToothFairy distributed more than $500,000 worth of products donated by Septodont to clinics serving more than 100,000 kids across 18 states. The donation included PPE and Dentapens, high-end, electronic anesthetic injection devices that would otherwise be considered a luxury for clinics that often provide dental care for free.
More than 80% of the patients treated by Apple Tree Dental are on public health plans. The clinic, located in Mounds View, MN, was one of 30 nonprofit clinics that received the donated products.
“In 2022, our oral surgery team provided more than 850 dental treatments using general anesthesia, a growing number of them are children,” said Mary Larkin, Apple Tree’s development and marketing director.
In addition to children, the nonprofit clinic serves thousands of people with special needs every year. “This donation will help our skilled dental specialists to provide care to more under resourced people who lack access to oral health care,” Larkin said.
We are grateful for Septodont’s generosity. Their donations help our members provide low-income patients with the same quality, pain-free care as their more affluent neighbors. Every child should have access to a pain-free dental care experience. When kids have positive experiences at their dental office, they are much less likely to avoid dental treatment due to anxiety and fear.
Not only that, but as the Title Sponsors of our National Screening Initiative, Septodont helped our members have the resources they need to provide more than 125,000 dental screenings for at-risk kids.
No child should suffer from tooth decay–a disease that is preventable. Our educational programs encourage effective dental hygiene habits and help families break the vicious cycle of poor oral health.
2023 was one of our best years yet for teaching families about the importance of oral health and how healthy dental hygiene habits improve overall health and quality of life! Watch this video to see a few highlights from this year:
After Covid-19 shut down our clinical program members, we made major adjustments to our educational programs to keep kids engaged in learning about the importance of oral health. The results exceeded our expectations and have impacted our educational reach since then.
As Title Sponsor of our Health Education Resources & Outreach (HERO) program, Align Technology makes it possible to provide free educational resources on our website so that oral health advocates across the country (and around the world!) have the materials needed to teach families about healthy smiles.
In 2023 we expanded the number of downloadable materials that are available in languages other than English including Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish, and more. Nearly 31,000 kids and caregivers were educated with these materials so far. See the selection or volunteer to translate on our Multilingual Resources Page.
It has been three years since we launched our Smile Guardian initiative and saw exponential growth this year! In 2023 seven times the number of kids were reached with Smile Guardian kits than in the first two years combined.
With support from the Delta Dental Foundation, we launched Storytime Smiles, a special resource kit to help young children who could dress up as oral health action heroes and learn about healthy dental hygiene habits at their local library. Other sponsors including MGE: Management Experts, Cranberry, and Patterson Dental helped us distribute education kits to our clinical partners as well as schools, afterschool programs, food pantries, homeless shelters, and more. Read the full story here.
Online awareness campaigns are an excellent way to reach families with the information they need to keep their smiles healthy. With support from DentaQuest and Sun Life we kicked off an all-new campaign, Share Your Smile, during National Children's Dental Health Month in February.
The campaign reached more than 92,000 kids and caregivers. It shone a light on oral health disparity with the aim to help others understand why this issue is important and how they can make a difference to help children grow up with healthy smiles. Oral health advocates and educators could access free campaign materials and a social media kit and kids were encouraged to submit a video telling their favorite joke to share smiles around the world. Read more about this campaign here.
Our second annual My Smile Matters campaign ran during National Dental Hygiene Month in October 2023. More than 50% more people participated this year as educators, public health workers, librarians, childcare workers, dental professionals and other oral health advocates in 42 states accessed the campaign's free materials to reach more than 162,000 people! Get more details about the campaign here.
When kids learn about the importance of a healthy smile, they are more likely to participate in dental care programs at their school and prevent tooth decay with good home care. After receiving their superhero-themed education resource kit, Augusta Regional Dental Clinic (ARDC) in Fishersville, Virginia told us about the impact the resources had on their outreach efforts. “They helped us engage the conversation with young patients and their parents during our community events," ARDC's Sophie Parsons said. "As a result, we have welcomed 454 new patients. That represents a 60% increase compared to the same period the year before!”
We are so honored to play a role in helping our members and advocates across the country teach kids how to protect their smiles!
We are excited to announce a partnership with CustMBite to launch our America's ToothFairy brand mouth guard! CustMBite is the only mouth guard manufacturer to earn the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Proceeds from sales benefit our mission and for every mouth guard sold, one will be donated to a child or teen in need. Mouth guards can be purchased on Amazon.
We welcomed two new members to our Board of Directors this year. Cherie Le Penske, CEO at Armor Dental joined us in April. Matthew Sanders, CEO of TSC EcoSolutions replaced his father, Dick Sanders, to provide corporate oversight for our organization. Matt was excited to find more ways to provide additional support for our cause by working with us to launch Scrap-4-Smiles, a new campaign that pays dental offices to support our mission.
This year, from January to April, we will celebrate the Smile Drive campaign’s 10th anniversary with special games, prizes, and promotions. However, you don’t have to wait to get involved. The 2024 Smile Drive campaign runs from now until June 30, 2024. To find out how to participate or donate to the campaign, visit SmileDrive.org.
We look forward to what we will accomplish together in 2024!
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