MIAMI--A national campaign to promote good oral health habits enlisted new recruits recently when more than 250 Coconut Grove Elementary School students joined Colgate-Palmolive Company and United Way at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami for a lively game-show themed dental challenge that featured music, prizes, costumed characters, and "High School Musical" star and recording artist Corbin Bleu.
A Colgate mobile dental van, one of a fleet of eight "clinics on wheels" that the company sponsors around the U.S., was also on hand to provide students with free dental screenings, treatment referrals and oral health education.
Recently released figures from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that the percentage of Americans with untreated tooth decay began rising this decade, reversing nearly 50 years of improvement in dental health. In Florida, access to care and shortages of resources are also adversely affecting the overall oral health of many residents.
The dental health challenge is part of a public commitment Colgate's Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program made in 2002 to reach 100 million children in the United States by 2010 with free dental screenings, treatment referrals and oral health education. By the end of 2008, the company will be more than three-quarters of the way to reaching its goal.
Against a vibrant backdrop of banners and balloons, teen sensation Corbin Bleu joined Dr. Marsha Butler, Colgate's vice president, Global Oral Health and Professional Relations, in hosting a game-show competition in which the audience, divided into teams, was quizzed on best practices for maintaining good oral health. Correct answers were rewarded "Deal or no Deal" style to each member of the team.
"When you think about meeting people at your school, in your neighborhood, from different states or even different countries, there's nothing more welcoming than a smile," Bleu told the students. "Traveling on tour, I've had an opportunity to see what a smile can do to put people at ease. When I learned of the risks oral health disease presents, especially for kids in urban and rural areas, I wanted to help Colgate and United Way draw attention to the importance of maintaining good dental health."
"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 poses a significant threat to our children's overall health and well-being," Dr. Butler added. "At Colgate, our objective is to work with communities to help reduce and prevent oral health disease, and we are providing children and their families with information and skills that allow them to take charge of their dental health.
In the past few years, we have hosted oral health festivals and awareness activities for children from LA (Los Angeles) to New York. We have a network of eight mobile dental vans that set up clinics in target areas and at cultural events across the United States. Globally, we have also reached out to more than 500 million people in 80 countries, encouraging children to see their dentists and recruiting parents, teachers, and community and professional organizations, to help raise awareness about the importance of maintaining good oral health."
Brian Gallagher, president and chief executive officer of United Way of America, also stressed the importance of programs like today's event that encourage children to embrace and share what they've learned about maintaining a bright, healthy smile.
"United Way is proud to partner with Colgate, one of our National Corporate Leaders," he said. "Together, Colgate and United Way are committed to helping children and their families have the best chance at a healthy and successful future."
For more information about Colgate's global business, visit the company's Web site at Colgate-Palmolive.