A dentist is showing to a little girl how to brush

Five Organizations Furthering Oral Health Education

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stats tell a story of Americans' inability to stop very preventable oral health conditions.

  • Untreated tooth decay occurs in 10 percent of children and 26 percent of adults age 20-64.
  • Around 40% of adults age 30 and over have had some type of gum disease.
  • Dental emergencies account for an annual average loss of 34 million (yes, million) school hours and $45 billion (yes, billion) in productivity.

Since prevention starts with education, dental health organizations dedicated to proper oral health care provide a wealth of information and other resources. These organizations offer education initiatives, free screenings, and even fun activities designed to improve dental health for families and people of all ages.

Alliance of the American Dental Association

The Alliance of the American Dental Association (AADA) programs promote oral health care programs benefiting people from birth through retirement.

Healthy Smiles from the Start: This education program addresses dental issues affecting pregnant women and their kids from birth through early childhood. Educational materials, offered in English and Spanish, provide information on many topics, including baby bottle tooth decay, preventing childhood cavities, and the importance of dentist visits during pregnancy.

By collaborating with prenatal and postnatal educational programs in hospitals and birthing centers, Healthy Smiles gives expecting moms a toolkit to help them and their families develop essential healthy oral care habits. The AADA partners with the American Dental Association and Henry Schein Cares to present the Healthy Smiles program.

Senior Smiles: This awareness program educates senior citizens about the importance of taking care of their teeth that "are meant to last a lifetime." The program also educates seniors on the care of dentures and the benefits of healthy living. Materials available online are a brochure and a PowerPoint presentation.

Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures®

Making a difference in children's dental health worldwide, the Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures® initiative provides free dental screenings and oral health education resources for families, teachers, and underserved communities.

Reaching one billion children and their families in 80 countries on six continents, Bright Smiles, Bright Futures' educational materials teach children in 30 languages how to keep their teeth and gums healthy. In the United States, the classroom curriculum reaches millions of children in all 50 states. Online, the Bright Smiles website offers educational materials for parents, kids, and dental professionals.

Professional volunteers in mobile dental vans provide free dental checkups to millions of children in communities across the United States. Volunteers examine each child's teeth and give referrals if they need to visit a dentist. They also give each child a bag of dental goodies: a kid-size toothbrush, fluoridated toothpaste, and information on proper brushing. Visit the website to request a mobile dental van visit to your community.

Authority Dental (formerly Oral Health America)

Continuing Oral Health America's "fight for equal access to dental care for all Americans," Authority Dental provides oral health educational resources and a free "Dentist Near Me" service. Authority Dental also took on Oral Health America's Wisdom Tooth Project®, which serves older adults and their caregivers.

Authority Dental's goal is to provide accessible, verified oral health information to promote good oral health care for everyone. In providing education, Authority Dental works with healthcare organizations, non-profits, and government sites.

American Dental Association (ADA)

Perhaps the best-known oral health organization in the U.S., the ADA has two major initiatives. Its Give Kids A Smile® provides free information and services to kids who have little or no access to oral health care in the United States. These volunteer-provided oral health services include screenings, treatment, preventative care, and education.

Mouth Healthy™, the ADA consumer website, educates people at all stages of their lives on proper oral care. The site provides information on such topics as what to expect when visiting a dentist and how to prevent dental issues through proper nutrition. Plus, it's a resource for teachers, providing lesson plans.

American Academy of Pediatric Dentists (AAPD)

You'd expect an association dedicated to children's oral health to be fun – and the AAPD's Mouth Monsters kid-friendly site is just that and more! Filled with kid activities to promote healthy oral habits and information for parents, Mouth Monsters wants to knock tooth decay off its top spot as the number one chronic infectious disease affecting U.S. children.

Healthy oral health habits don't come naturally – they're learned. And thanks to the many organizations committing their time and resources to education and access to care, more kids will have smiling, cavity-free faces and more older adults will keep their teeth throughout their lifetime.

For continuing education, visit the Colgate Oral Care Center (OCC). An oral health authority, Colgate provides information covering nearly 1,500 oral health topics, ranging from the tooth fairy to oral cancer.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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