It takes the whole community

Cavities Affect More Than Teeth

Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation’s mission is to improve Colorado’s oral health by eradicating childhood tooth decay. By connecting to Coloradans, we can affect local changes that will improve oral health across the state. Here’s why oral health matters:

  • An estimated 30,000 Colorado children in kindergarten through third grade have untreated tooth decay—many from low-income families. Tooth decay is the #1 chronic disease of childhood, and one of the state’s “10 Winnable Battles”, as it’s almost 100% preventable.
  • Fluoride toothpaste helps prevent decay, but it’s not enough. Sugar decays kids’ teeth, and while juice a common source of sugar in children’s diets, many of us still believe juice is healthy. Tap water helps prevent decay and promotes good oral health.
  • School readiness and performance among kids with untreated decay is negatively impacted due to pain, absence, self-esteem issues and other factors.
  • Poor oral health is linked to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • Only 10% of children in Colorado visited a dentist by 12 months of age, as recommended by the American Dental Association.
  • 40% of kindergarten children in Colorado had dental caries, 14% had untreated decay and 2% needed urgent dental care due to pain or infection. (55% of third-grade children in Colorado had dental caries).
  • Children's Hospital Colorado serves more than 3,000 children for dental surgery annually. These are children who must receive general anesthesia to receive needed oral health treatment.
  • More than 20,100 guests explored food in the Teaching Kitchen programs.

Our community partners help us reach people through a variety of outlets. Read below about how they are helping to improve oral health in their communities.

Education is the best defense

By learning about this issue, you are already making a difference. By educating others, you can empower them to adopt healthier habits. Share the resources below with those you know.

Bright By Three visits with parents and caregivers and provides a three-step program to make sure their little ones get the best start in life. Bright By Three’s no-cost text-messaging program offers parents helpful, age-specific information about their child’s oral health and development. Text BRIGHT to 444999 to sign up.

Launched in 2007, Cavity Free at Three trains and supports health and dental providers on preventing childhood tooth decay. To get involved and receive training, visit Cavity Free at Three’s website for more information.

Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus features the Village of Healthy Smiles, where children newborn through age three and their grown-ups can explore oral health in an interactive way. The Children’s Museum also offers fun programs including story time every Thursday, a summer program called It’s a Toothy Tradition, and a school program called Molar Expedition.

Denver Public Health is helping to lead the way in promoting healthy beverages like water. Denver Public Health’s “Rethink Your Drink” campaign is providing vital information on how sugary drinks contribute to health problems in children and adults. The campaign encourages the consumption of water.

Healthier Colorado aims to improve the health of all Coloradans. They elevate the voices of residents in the public policy process. They seek to reduce health disparities based on socioeconomic status, race and geography. Healthier Colorado, through support from Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation, leads a statewide community water fluoridation initiative.

The Healthy Beverage Partnership works to reduce obesity and related chronic diseases in the Denver metro region and is sponsored by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The HBP’s “Hidden Sugar” campaign is coordinated by Denver Public Health, in partnership with local public health and environment agencies in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson counties.

LiveWell Colorado educates and inspires children and adults to embrace healthy eating and active living. To learn more about protecting your child’s overall health from obesity, visit our website.

Oral Health Colorado (OHCO) develops and promotes strategies that achieve good oral health for all Coloradans. OHCO’s work includes coalition-building, improving access to care, and supporting public policies that promote good oral health.

Qualistar Colorado advances quality, access and equity in early childcare and education. Their approach includes family and educator services to improve outcomes for children. They work across sectors to provide quality assessments and capital improvement grants. Qualistar’s data and research rates Colorado’s early care and education landscape. It also helps to identify effective public policies.

Southeastern Colorado Area Health Education Center trains oral health promoters, or promotores. The promotores engage with Pueblo families and community leaders about the importance of children’s dental health and prevention of tooth decay in kids.

Westwood Unidos has launched a campaign in Southwest Denver to spark a resident-driven movement for child oral health. Using a community organizing approach, this work focuses on the importance of baby teeth and limiting children’s consumption of sugary drinks, especially juice. We hope to replicate this work in other areas across the state.