Public Media Connect (ThinkTV in Dayton, Ohio, and CET in Cincinnati), in collaboration with the Delta Dental Foundation of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, and the McMillen Center for Health Education, are working to address a major health problem for children: poor dental health. Together, the partners have launched a project to improve the dental health awareness of young children, their teachers and their families in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.
Around the nation, tooth decay is the largest unmet health need in children, according to a 2012 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. In Ohio, 2011 figures from the Ohio Department of Health bear out the large scale of the problem:
• 51% of children have experienced tooth decay by third grade;
• Over 25% of low-income children have untreated cavities and toothaches;
• Nearly 340,000 children have never been to the dentist.
Improving dental health awareness for teachers, parents and young children helps address the problem of poor oral health. This project works on building awareness by:
• Teaching prevention strategies to help reduce decay;
• Promoting taking children to the dentist starting at an early age, especially by reducing fear of a dental visit;
• Making teachers and parents aware of local dental providers who will care for young children, especially from low-income families.
In partnership with public television stations across Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, the BRUSH! Project will reach into homes and childcare facilities throughout the three states through the broadcast of oral health themed on-air messages (see below) and in-person, hands-on professional development workshops using the BRUSH! Curriculum developed by the McMillen Center for Health Education.