Dental caries of the primary teeth affects an estimated 530 million children worldwide, and around 13.2% of children aged 5-19 are thought to be living with untreated caries in the US alone. That makes dental caries the most prevalent non-communicable disease in the US and the world, with the potential to seriously impact the physical, emotional and social wellbeing of affected children.
Dental caries is an entirely preventable disease, but many children and families around the world do not have access to the oral health education and resources they need to maintain happy, healthy smiles. That’s why Colgate launched Bright Smiles, Bright Futures.
Bright Smiles, Bright Futures
Since 1991, Colgate’s Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program has been delivering oral health care and education to children in underserved communities all over the world. We do this because we believe that every child has the right to a lifetime of healthy smiles. However, where oral care access, education and resources are lacking, children all too often don’t get the healthy start they deserve.
So far, we’ve reached over one billion children in 80 different countries with our education and outreach activities. In the US alone, the program’s award-winning classroom curriculum currently reaches four million children across all 50 states, while our mobile vans have provided education, screenings and referrals for 10 million children in rural and urban areas.
By 2025, we’re aiming to reach another billion children worldwide, with the ultimate goal of giving every single child a bright, cavity-free future. Here’s what we’re doing and how you can get involved.
Oral Health Curriculum
The Bright Smiles, Bright Futures curriculum is an award-winning collection of resources to help teachers, parents and dental professionals educate children about oral health and caries prevention. Developed by global dental care experts, the multicultural curriculum is available online in 30 languages. It features a wide selection of resources you may find helpful in your practice and outreach activities, such as:
Educational wall posters, charts and infographics to display in your workspace.
Fun games and activity sheets to share with children.
Educational guides to share with parents and families.
Patient letter templates.
Award certificates to reward positive behaviors.
You can also point families, children, educators and volunteers to resources like:
Games, animations, comics and songs to teach children healthy habits.
Storybooks and movies for children and their caregivers to enjoy together.
Classroom posters, coloring sheets and activities.
Volunteer advice and classroom visit guides.
Community Outreach and Volunteering
Community outreach is at the heart of the Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program.
One of our most successful initiatives has been our mobile dental vans, which travel all over the US to provide screenings to children under 12. They’re fitted with a waiting room, where children can enjoy educational games and activities, and two child-sized dental chairs where they can receive free dental screening and, if necessary, a local referral for treatment. Children are also given free learning materials, Colgate toothpaste and toothbrushes, and tips for building healthy habits at home. At the current time, our mobile vans are not operational due to the pandemic. However, there are lots of other ways for dental students to get involved in our outreach activities.
If you’re planning a community outreach event of your own, there are many Bright Smiles, Bright Futures resources available for your use. You can download resources directly from our website. Depending on the country you are in, these materials are available in a kit, such as here if you’re based in Australia or New Zealand. For other areas, please refer to your local Colgate Professional website and Bright Smiles, Bright Futures webpage for details and resources.