A child with a dentist in a dental office.

More than half of Arizona’s kindergarten children have dental cavities – which is greater than the national average for 5-year-olds – according to the Healthy Smiles Healthy Bodies Survey.

So, Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health (NOAH) and Delta Dental of Arizona want to ensure these children receive the oral health education they need to reduce the rate of cavities.

  Delta Dental awarded NOAH $100,000 over two years to continue the Smiles for Kids school-based oral health program. 

In the past, NOAH’s Smiles for Kids program provided in person oral health education, dental screenings, and fluoride varnish services to over 3,000 children at primarily Title 1 elementary schools in Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and Deer Valley. 

To continue this work while schools were closed, NOAH retooled the program to provide the educational component via video with the funds from Delta Dental of Arizona.   

“Poor oral health can negatively affect how a young mouth develops and leads to more than 50 million school hours being lost each year. It can also impact a child’s confidence, speech, nutrition, social skills, as well as potential for success later in life,” said Dr. Lou Sarrosa, NOAH dental director. 

“This grant not only allows us to treat thousands of low income and uninsured children who otherwise may not have access to dental services, it also gives us the opportunity to present dental education in a new and interactive platform for their families and provide them with important resources that can benefit the entire family.” 

Students watch short videos on six separate oral health modules, take a quiz and electronically obtain parent permission to receive an oral health screening, fluoride varnish treatment and dental supplies once students return to school.

Delta Dental of Arizona, a dental benefits company, has distributed over $750,000 this year to 34 Arizona community organizations though its charitable arm.

Since 2006, the Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation has provided more than $13 million in community benefit support for oral health promotion and dental disease prevention programs across the state.