Colgate, Saints promote oral health awareness

July 9, 2010
Children in New Orleans, La., participate in a brush-a-thon,and receive free dental screenings

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana--Colgate-Palmolive Company, a leader in oral care, is teaming up with a trio of Saints to champion good oral health among Gulf Coast children.

Colgate's Bright Smiles, Bright Futures national campaign to improve children's oral health joins Super Bowl champions Jonathan Vilma, Pierre Thomas, and Marques Colston and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Louisiana and Boys & Girls Clubs of the Gulf Coast, to sponsor festivals that will highlight the importance of maintaining good oral health.

More than 600 children in New Orleans and Mississippi's Hancock and Harrison Counties will receive free dental screenings, oral health education, and treatment referrals. They will also join Vilma, Thomas, and Colston in a brush-a-thon to promote oral health awareness.

The festivals feature a "mardi-gras" backdrop of music, celebrities, and costumed characters with interactive oral health activities. With the Saints players cheering them on, children will board the Colgate mobile dental vans for screenings and learn how to maintain good oral health habits. Participants will also brush their teeth and gums along with the football stars.

"Today, with the challenges surrounding access to health care, the oral health awareness and outreach that we perform with community partners like the Boys & Girls Clubs and our volunteer dentists is more important than ever," said Dr. Marsha Butler, Colgate's vice president, Global Oral Health and Professional Relations.

"Over the past several years, with Hurricane Katrina and the current oil spill crisis, the Gulf Coast region has been faced with situations that, for children and adults alike, have been beyond their control. However, taking care of our teeth and gums and helping to prevent oral health disease is something children can control if they learn how and develop healthy habits. There is a pressing need to improve oral health in this area of the country, and Colgate is proud to be leading this effort."

The Gulf Coast oral health festivals are part of Colgate's ongoing national oral care education program, Bright Smiles, Bright Futures. Established in 1991, the program uses eight mobile dental vans staffed with volunteer dentists to conduct free dental screenings, distribute multicultural educational materials, and free toothpaste and toothbrushes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in its Trends in Oral Health Status report, revealed an increase in the number of children ages 2 to 5 who suffer from cavities in the U.S. This reverses a decades-long trend of decline.

Getting children to develop good brushing habits early is critical because oral disease remains a national epidemic. Tooth decay now is the single most common chronic childhood disease among youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, a report released in 2010by the Pew Center on the States Children's Dental Campaign indicates that "between 2009 and 2018, annual spending for dental services in the U.S. is projected to increase 58%, from $101.9 billion to $161.4 billion. Approximately one-third of the money will go to dental services for children."

According to Greg Gipson, director of operations, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Gulf Coast, "Tooth decay is the most widespread of chronic illnesses affecting children. Poor dental health has been associated with diabetes, heart disease and malnourishment. Clearly, good dental health is critical to a child's overall health; we believe education is the first defense."

Added Darrell Guy Sr., director of special projects for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Louisiana's NFL-Youth Education Town site: "This is an area that has and continues to face enormous challenges, but one of our greatest assets is our people. Providing our children with information and tools to take proper care of their teeth, gums, and overall health is an investment in their future and the future of our communities."

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