CHARLOTTE, North Carolina--With the enthusiastic help of more than 250 students at the Elizabeth Traditional Elementary School, Colgate-Palmolive Company teamed up with Family Dollar and the Charlotte Department of Public Health to dedicate a Bright Smiles, Bright Futures mobile dental van.
The van will be used to provide free dental screenings, treatment referrals and oral health education to children in metropolitan Charlotte and the surrounding area.
In the most recent Oral Health America Report Card issued by the U.S. Surgeon General's Office, access to care and shortages of resources and personnel are posing a significant threat to the overall health of residents of North Carolina and many other states.
The Charlotte van dedication is part of a comprehensive campaign launched by Colgate's Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program to provide free dental screening and oral health education to 100 million children by the year 2010.
Amid a flurry of flags and balloons, Carolina Panthers star receiver Steve Smith joined Dr. Marsha Butler, Colgate's vice president, Global Oral Health and Professional Relations; Robert George, Family Dollar's executive vice president - chief merchandising officer; and Dr. Gary Kushner, director, Charlotte Department of Public Health, in unveiling the new mobile dental van.
Elizabeth Traditional students took part in the program by participating in a lively game-show style competition co-hosted by Smith and Dr. Butler. Music, costumed characters and prizes added to the festivities.
"Playing football and having the chance to travel to different parts of the world, I've had an opportunity to see firsthand what a smile can do to put people at ease and create a positive first impression," Smith told the children.
"When I learned of the risk oral health disease poses for kids in urban and rural areas, and of the steps Colgate and Family Dollar were taking to combat it, I wanted to do what I could to help draw attention to the importance of maintaining good oral health."
"Oral health disease is making disturbing inroads into North Carolina and communities around the U.S.," Colgate's Dr. Marsha Butler told the gathering. "For children between the ages of 5 and 17 in the U.S., tooth decay is more common than asthma, more common than hay fever and it presents a significant risk to our children's overall health and well-being."
"At Colgate, our objective is to work with communities to help reduce and prevent oral health disease," Dr. Butler added. "We are providing children and their families with information and skills that allow them to take charge of their dental health. With the addition of the Charlotte van, we now have a network of eight mobile dental cans that set up clinics in target areas and at cultural events across the United States. Along with our dental screenings and treatment referrals, we are encouraging children to see their dentists, and we are recruiting parents, teachers, and community and professional organizations, to help raise awareness about the importance of maintaining good oral health."
Robert George, executive vice president-merchandising, chief merchandising officer, Family Dollar, said: "Family Dollar is very excited to be affiliated with the Bright Smiles, Bright Futures dental van as it supports our interest in educational efforts as well as our commitment to community involvement. Children and families visiting the dental van will receive free, helpful dental information, and because we are partnering with responsible, community-minded vendors like Colgate-Palmolive, together we are making a difference in the lives of many families."
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