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Tooth Fairy Convention Gives Children Something to Smile About

When a child suffers from tooth decay, a host of related problems arise that make it difficult to lead a happy, productive life. Chronic dental pain interferes with a growing child’s ability to eat or get a good night’s sleep, which negatively impacts school performance. Without access to dental care, oral health issues can advance and lead to tooth loss and disfigurement, which can have a lifelong damaging effect on self-esteem. The financial toll that major dental repairs can take can add to a family’s stress.

Luckily for some Los Angeles Unified School District (L.A.U.S.D.) students, the Tooth Fairy is alive and well and helping to bring access to dental care to hundreds of kids from underserved communities. This fall, the L.A. Trust for Children’s Health hosted its inaugural Tooth Fairy Convention to help build awareness about the importance of oral health. More than 600 L.A.U.S.D. students and families made their way to the event held at the Los Angeles Coliseum for free dental screenings, health education, and more.

Tooth decay is the leading health problem in California where children have twice as much untreated tooth decay as their national counterparts, according to recent data. Unfortunately, many families lack the knowledge and resources necessary to make oral health a priority in their households. Many are unaware of the link between oral and overall health.  For others, dental insurance is simply not a benefit they can afford.

Nurses, health educators and oral health experts were on hand to speak with families and answer questions in a friendly, festive environment that featured live music, healthy food and even a tooth fairy trio teaching children the A-B-C’s of good dental care.

Dr. Maritza Cabezas, a dentist with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health who participated in the event, noted that tooth decay affects some 70 percent of all third-graders. Among other important health tips, she urged families to drink or cook with tap water, which contains fluoride that helps prevent cavities. Dental experts also note that major problems can often be avoided with good oral hygiene, such as regular brushing and flossing, dental check-ups, and limiting sweets.

The event was presented in collaboration with more than a dozen community-based organizations and partners, including Kaiser Permanente who was a $15,000 event sponsor. Kaiser Permanente understands that oral health is an integral part of good overall health. Guided by its community health needs assessments, which identify dental care as a high priority in its surrounding communities, Kaiser Permanente has long supported dental care providers and oral health organizations through grant awards, event sponsorships, and more.

To learn more about oral health, including links to local resources, visit http://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/ Information about oral health provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

http://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/state_programs/oh_plans/index.htm State oral health information and links from participating states.