Ed. Note: Rachel Garber is a writer and photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Sesame Street was in San Francisco last week to catch some of the annual October sunshine that gets San Franciscans through its famously cold summers. On Oct. 16, students at ER Taylor Elementary chattered excitedly to each other on the blacktop, but not about the weather: They were talking about their teeth.
“I brush for three minutes—not two, just to be safe,” one 5th grader bragged to his friends as his class waited to have their teeth examined by volunteer dentists. Their school participated in a three-day dental screening program Oct. 15-17 in San Francisco, as part of the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Give Kids a Smile initiative. Read More
Last week, I had the privilege of traveling to San Francisco to be a part of the American Dental Association’s Give Kids a Smile oral health screening program, which took place at two elementary schools and a hospital over the course of three days. In collaboration with the San Francisco Dental Society, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Colgate’s Bright Future, Bright Smiles program, and the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation, over 2,000 San Francisco children received free oral health screenings and education on those three days. We were a part of these events for our work on our Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me outreach initiative, with the ADA distributing over 2,000 of the Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me kits to all of the participating children, along with free toothbrushes and toothpaste. Read More
Since its founding, Sesame Workshop has been dedicated to making sure kids grow up healthy and strong. In recent years, our partner Sam’s Club has helped us further that goal by in part funding the creation of Sesame Street’s “Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me” outreach kits. The bilingual (English/Spanish) outreach kits include an original Sesame StreetDVD and a family booklet. There’s also additional activities and information at SesameStreet.org/Teeth.
As part of its commitment to the health and wellbeing of children across the country, Sam’s Club is offering free health screenings for children at all locations with a pharmacy. In addition to the screenings, a limited supply of “Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me” outreach kits will be distributed as well, in the hopes of providing children and parents with the information they need to make choices that will have a positive impact on their oral health.
It’s critical that children learn the importance of oral health early in life. That’s why Sesame Workshop was so excited for last week’s launch of “Health Teeth, Healthy Me,” our new bilingual oral health outreach initiative that helps teach kids, parents and caregivers why it’s never too early to start learning how to brush your teeth. Please take a few minutes to watch some highlights from the “Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me” launch, but don’t blame us if you find yourself singing the “Brushy Brush” song for the rest of the day.
Dr. James Crall is a pediatric dentist and a professor of pediatric dentistry and public health & community dentistry at UCLA. He has served as a member or consultant on numerous national panels concerning oral health and advised Sesame Workshop on the development of our new oral health outreach initiative. We spoke with Dr. Crall in order to learn more about the general state of children’s oral health in this country and ways parents can help encourage an emphasis on oral health.
Sesame Workshop: First and foremost, tell me about the general state of oral health among young children in this country?
Dr. James Crall: Looking at the big picture over time there have been significant improvements in children’s oral health in this country. However, the first ever U.S. Surgeon General’s report on oral health in 2000 noted that there remains a “silent epidemic of dental problems.” Nationally things have improved since then, but despite those improvements there is still disparity in children’s oral health and millions of children still face significant problems accessing dental care, especially young children.