gifts in action:

Smile Pep Rallies Help Kids Learn About Oral Health

Children living in rural or disadvantaged communities often face limited access to dental care providers and suffer from higher rates of tooth decay as a result. But thanks to Crest and Oral-B, nonprofit organizations working to improve the oral health of children in marginalized communities across the U.S. can reach more kids with preventive services that help save smiles.

One such organization is Let’s Smile, Inc., a safety-net dental care provider based in Owatonna, Minnesota. The team at Let’s Smile and their Executive Director, Holly Jorgensen, RDH (aka The Smile Fairy) change lives by improving access to oral health care, increasing oral health literacy, and raising awareness about the importance of oral health’s impact on overall health, especially to those most vulnerable.

Join our celebration of dental hygienists and the impact they make on children's overall health at MySmileMatters.org!

Nonprofit organizations like Let’s Smile face an ever-growing need for services and depend on charitable contributions in order to meet the needs of the communities they serve. To help Holly and her staff serve more kids, we partnered with Crest and Oral-B to provide funding and resources to support preventive services for 1,000 children and to hold Smile Pep Rallies in schools and daycares across rural Minnesota.

During the pep rallies, students received oral health instruction, fun activity booklets and bookmarks that reinforce the importance of healthy dental hygiene habits, educational information for caregivers, and oral care kits including Crest brand toothpaste and Oral-B toothbrushes.

Elementary students are happy to pose with and cheer for their Oral-B Kid's Battery Toothbrushes, Crest Sparkle Fun Toothpaste, and fun oral health educational materials from America's ToothFairy during Smile Pep Rallies held by Let's Smile, Inc.

“Students are often so excited to receive toothbrushes that their cheers can be heard in classrooms down the hall,” Jorgensen told us. “One little boy looked up at me in earnest and asked if there were enough toothbrushes to give to everyone in the class or if they had to share them. When I told him that yes, there is enough for everyone to get their own and he will be able to take his home, his smile lit up his face.

Another boy told me to thank you for the goodies because he did not have a toothbrush at home,” Jorgensen continued. “He was so embarrassed to tell me that he did it in the hallway when none of his classmates were around to hear him.” 

The events also help Let’s Smile staff identify students with urgent dental needs that could receive services through their school-based dental clinics.

“I love when the children recognize us from the oral health pep rallies and are excited to sit in the dental chair for their clinical preventive dental services,” Jorgensen said.

The stories we hear from our nonprofit dental partners are often heart-breaking. It seems inconceivable that in a nation as wealthy as ours, families are sharing a single toothbrush and children are waiting for a year or more to receive dental services, but this is the reality in many communities. We are encouraged by the generosity of donors–including Crest and Oral-B–who make it possible for more children to receive oral health education, essential preventive dental services, and products to help them establish healthy dental hygiene habits at home.

We are especially grateful for the dedicated members of our Dental Resource Program, including Holly and her team at Let’s Smile, who work so hard to ensure every child can have a healthy smile. It is an honor to contribute to their mission.

To learn more about how you can help our members serve more kids, contact us at info@ncohf.org.

Excited students show off their free oral care products from Crest, Oral-B, and America's ToothFairy.
(left): Holly Jorgensen, RDH (aka The Smile Fairy) teaches a group of preschool students how many times they should brush and floss each day. (middle): The Smile Fairy is **very** excited when a preschool students remembers how often he should brush each day. (right): The Smile Fairy helps a young boy select toothpaste, a toothbrush and educational materials that will help him keep his smile healthy.

Read another impact story to see how Crest and Oral-B supported screening events to help children living in California access dental services and connect to a dental home.

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