Seattle, WA – Employees in all three Delta Dental of Washington offices join forces to assemble oral health kits for vulnerable youth across the state.
In Washington state, thousands of students are without the means to spend discretionary income on regular oral health care items. These students may be in the foster care system, living in migrant communities, or struggling with homelessness.
In response to this need, Delta Dental of Washington launched Smile Squad, an employee-led program that provides essential dental care items to local organizations that support underserved youth.
The program supplies oral hygiene kits every 3 months to organizations supporting middle and high school aged youth. The goal is to provide not only necessary home oral health items, but also to help provide a sense of security and continuous support in their lives.
"It’s not ‘just’ a toothbrush. That’s really something we take for granted. Toothbrushes have a large impact, but it’s not going to be a priority for those struggling financially.” said Kebron Fikadu, one of the program’s leaders and a recruiter at Delta Dental of Washington.
The impact of not having home oral health items can affect students’ overall health. Tooth decay is the #1 chronic condition for children and statistics show that 10th graders who miss school due to a toothache report lower grades than students who don’t.*
“Together with community partners, our hope is that by providing provide a steady cadence of oral health necessities students will not only improve their health, but maybe even improve their experience at school," said Kebron Fikadu, a Delta Dental of Washington recruiter and Smile Squad organizer.
Smile Squad's oral health kits will be distributed to three local organizations in Seattle, Spokane, and Colville, Washington. To date, more than 40,000 kits have been distributed to schools, food banks, and community centers across the state.
This initiative is just one among many that Delta Dental of Washington champions, all aligning with their mission of ensuring equitable access to oral healthcare for all Washingtonians.
In 2024, the Smile Squad will continue to collaborate with organizations dedicated to supporting vulnerable youth in Washington state.
*National Children’s Oral Health Survey, Delta Dental Plans Association, 2015