Program provides toothbrushes and other dental supplies to children in need .
The Early Beginnings
Delta Dental of Washington and Arcora Foundation partnered in late 2020 with Boys & Girls Clubs of King County to pilot Operation Toothbrush – an initiative to provide new toothbrushes and other necessary dental health supplies to children.
Kicking off at the North Seattle Boys & Girls Club, and continuing at other club locations county wide, 2,500 dental health kits – containing a youth-sized toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste, dental floss – were distributed along with information about DentistLink, a free dental referral service provided by Arcora Foundation, as well as reminders for how to maintain good oral health at home.
“Kids are always learning about health and wellness in our clubs. It’s a huge part of what we do, so we love working with Delta Dental’s Operation Toothbrush to make sure all kids have what they need for good oral hygiene", said Laura Black, CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of King County.
The program was the brainchild of Delta Dental’s Human Resources Recruitment Coordinator Kebron Fikadu, inspired by her previous experience as an intern working with students at Foster High School in Tukwila. “Imagine if a toothbrush had an impact to improve the overall health of a student so they are able to focus more on school,” she says, noting that tooth decay is one of the most common diseases among children, and that one in five children between the ages of five and 11 years old has at least one untreated cavity. This has detrimental effects on a child’s quality of life, including problems eating, and learning.
The COVID-19 pandemic further intensified the need for toothbrushes among those who were struggling financially. In response, Operation Toothbrush delivered more than 35,000 toothbrushes and dental health kits via school districts, food banks and senior centers statewide, and plans to expand the program in the coming year.