America's ToothFairy HERO Program Teaches Prevention


Nationwide oral care education program is possible with support from Align Technology and others.

America's ToothFairy HERO Program Teaches Prevention | Image Credit: © America's ToothFairy

Staff from Sonrisas Dental Health use the ToothFairy 101® Community Education Kit to teach youngsters at their school in San Mateo, California, about the importance of healthy dental hygiene habits. Sonrisas Dental Health receives free educational resources from America’s ToothFairy to help them serve more children in marginalized communities each year. | Image Credit: © America's ToothFairy

With plenty of support from the dental community, America’s ToothFairy’s Health Education Resources and Outreach (HERO) Program is designed to help teach children and their caregivers just how important it is to take preventative measures against tooth decay. The program provides oral health educational materials and outreach kits that assist community volunteers, oral health advocates, and dental health professionals to educate people about the importance of a healthy smile and how to prevent dental diseases.

According to America’s ToothFairy, more than 69 million people live in dental care health professional shortage areas, where on average only 31.75% of the population have their dental needs met. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to increasing access to oral health care for children in underserved populations and is working to provide effective education and prevention programs for communities that simply don’t have enough dental care providers.

“Dental disease is preventable, yet most oral health efforts focus on restorative care, rather than prevention,” Jill Malmgren, executive director of America’s ToothFairy, says in a press release.

“This creates a revolving door of drill, fill, and pull where children access services only when in severe pain or in need of invasive and expensive treatments.

“Over the last 3 years we have developed new ways to empower oral health educators to share the information families need to practice healthy dental hygiene habits at home and reinforce the importance of routine dental exams,” Malmgren adds.

During the organization’s 2023 fiscal year, which ended June 30, the HERO Program provided the following:

  • Guides for volunteers to address oral health inequity in their own communities
  • Downloadable educational materials that were used to reach nearly 600,000 children and caregivers
  • 142 ToothFairy 101® Community Education Kits for educators, public health workers, and other oral health advocates that can reach at least 250 children each year
  • 2 sponsored awareness campaigns including educational materials that reached 190,000 people and social media kits that reached thousands more online.

“A healthy smile can have a tremendous impact throughout a child’s lifetime,” says Julie Paulsen, vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility at Align Technology and America’s ToothFairy Board Secretary says in the press release. “Align Technology is proud of what we have accomplished together with America’s ToothFairy to help families in underserved communities learn how to prevent dental disease and break the cycle of poor oral health.”

Sponsored Smile Guardian education kits were given to an additional 75,500 kids. The kits—which included printed activity booklets for kids, guides for parents, and toothbrushes and toothpaste—were distributed regionally to organizations that serve at-risk populations including food banks, afterschool programs, public libraries, school nurses, preschools, and daycares thanks to contributions from Delta Dental, MGE: Management Experts, Patterson Dental, Cranberry, and private dental offices.

Related reading: America’s ToothFairy and Partner MGE: Management Experts Continue Support for Underprivileged Children

“Education materials from America’s ToothFairy are amazing tools that make learning about oral health fun for the children and accessible for the caregivers,” says Tracey Carrillo Fecher, Chief Executive Officer at Sonrisas Dental Health, in the press release. “We distribute these education materials at community events, oral health presentations and in the oral health toolkits we give to every child who has contact with Sonrisas programming or clinical services.” Sonrisas, a nonprofit, safety net dental clinic in California, is one the 57 clinics nationwide that received resources from America’s ToothFairy to expand the number of children who can receive dental services in the last year.

Since its inception in 2006, America’s ToothFairy has distributed more than $25.6 million in donated products, educational materials, and financial grants to improve oral health outcomes for children and youth in need.

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