It's incredibly sad to think that so many children suffer from a childhood disease that is avoidable. Dental Caries is a preventable disease, and unidentified and untreated dental caries can contribute to pain and missed days of school. Disadvantaged children are also at greater risk for oral disease and may not have visited a dental office or have access to one. The CDC states that ' children aged 5 to 19 years from low-income families are twice as likely (25%) to have cavities, compared with children from higher-income households (11%).' The only way many of these children will have the access to care, is through the aid of those who voluntarily give of their time. Bright Smiles, Bright Futures is one program that gives each of those who give and receive care a chance to walk away with a smile.
What is Bright Smiles, Bright Futures and how does it benefit children?
Bright Smiles, Bright Futures (BSBF) is Colgate’s worldwide initiative in helping children have a healthier oral health future. This global program has now reached more than a billion children in 80 countries, working to help improve the oral health of children throughout the world. In the United States, Colgate’s BSBF classroom curriculum reaches nearly nine out of every 10 kindergarten students annually, 3.5 million children in all 50 states, and more than 10 million children through the mobile dental van grassroots van program. The Mobile Van initiative consists of mobile vans that function as dental offices for dental screenings and, as needed, referrals to dental offices are also provided. At the current time, the mobile van services are temporarily suspended due to COVID-19.
BSBF includes a wide range of downloadable online resources for dental professionals, volunteers, teachers and families. Education on oral health and oral care benefits the whole family. Colgate has an amazing amount of information and educational aids/tools to reach out to parents and to children of all ages in elementary school. Child-friendly resources include songs, story books, comic books, dental games, apps, a board game and even animated videos. Colgate's BSBF initiative also gives children in urban and rural communities a less invasive view of what a dental care facility and a visit to the dentist may look like.
How can I give my time?
Volunteering by educating and caring for our children doesn’t have to be an in-person activity. Colgate’s online resources include materials for dental professionals, parents, volunteers and teachers. Printable resources such as award certificates for healthy choices made and good habits, and in-office printables to engage children while they are in the office, are all available on the website. Consistent and constant follow through could never be more important, while our children are navigating through the many changes in their daily lives. While we wait for the mobile van to become active again, working with teachers and schools in promoting healthy oral habits can be fun and engaging for children and promote “off screen” activities for each age group to be involved in.
As we work together in volunteering, we help children to develop healthy habits for now and their future as teenagers and adults. We must become creative in the ways we reach out. BSBF gives the resources to promote healthy oral habits and thereby to help reduce the dental caries children are at risk of suffering. We must work together to help children have a brighter smile, so they can have a brighter future.