In celebration of Children’s Dental Health Month, recognized annually in February, Delta Dental of Tennessee (Delta Dental) announced the release of new educational materials for elementary schools through its “Water’s Cool @ School” initiative. “Water’s Cool @ School” aims to encourage students to drink more water.
Delta Dental recently awarded grants to 55 elementary schools across Tennessee to replace an existing water fountain with a contactless bottle filling station and Alamo City School was included.
With COVID-19 restrictions, all water fountains within the school have been blocked off for use. The school already had a refill station but this grant awarded the school a second that was plased in the second and third grade hall to allow easier access for students to refill their water bottle throughout the day.
“Children’s Dental Health Month is an especially timely reminder this year of the importance of establishing good oral hygiene habits at a young age,” said Dr. Phil Wenk, CEO and president of Delta Dental of Tennessee. “Since the start of the pandemic nearly a year ago, many school-based oral hygiene programs have been limited or shut down altogether, and 40 percent of parents have not tried to get dental care for their child. This is very worrisome, as children with oral health problems are more likely to miss school and suffer academically.”
The educational materials, which are available online and at no cost to any elementary school, include activity sheets, sugar demonstrations, games, posters, and a video series developed in partnership with the Nashville Zoo. In the videos, Zoo animals Ube the kangaroo and Jake Quyllenhall, a porcupine, model their own unique good dental hygiene habits to encourage kids to take care of their own teeth. The videos are each two minutes long to serve as a guide for how long children should be brushing their teeth, twice each day. Keeping up good habits at home, including brushing and flossing twice a day and limiting sugary beverages, is especially important during longer gaps between visits to the dentist.
Additionally, over 50,000 toothbrushes will go home with Tennessee students through Delta Dental’s longstanding support for food banks and BackPack programs that provide weekend meals for children in food-insecure households. Food banks have experienced unprecedented demand since the start of the pandemic; today, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee distributes nearly 1 million pounds of food each week, and 1 in 5 children in Middle Tennessee are at risk for hunger, up from 1 in 6 prior to the pandemic.
Every student in the Alamo City School building received a new toothbrush during the event.