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Startling Statistics


The most common chronic childhood disease is tooth decay.


Students miss 51 million hours of school per year due to oral health problems.


Only 34 percent of America’s fourth-graders read at or above grade level.

Students who are absent miss critical instruction time, especially in early grades when reading skills are a focus.

Students who don’t read at grade level by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of school than students who do.

Students who have experienced recent oral health pain are four times more likely to have lower grade point averages than their counterparts who have not.

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Brighter Futures

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Delta Dental of Michigan’s Brighter Futures initiative is designed to improve the oral and overall health and well-being of children and adults through advocacy, education and philanthropy. At the core of this initiative are seven public policy priorities upon which  much of our work is based.

One major focus of Brighter Futures is on improving children’s oral health and school success, and we have developed and support a variety of programs and organizations that address these issues including:

  • The legislator tote bag program designed to engage state legislators in helping to spread the word about the importance of reading and good oral health through the distribution of children’s oral health books, classroom materials and teacher resources when they visit classrooms.
  • A partnership with McMillen Health to produce and promote Brush!—a 52-week literacy based preschool oral health program to preschool students, teachers and families.
  • The “From Drool to School” book and brochure to educate parents and caregivers on how to take care of children’s teeth from pre-birth through elementary school.
  • The “Rethink Your Drink” campaign which serves to educated children and adults on the health consequences of drinking sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • A school adoption program with Blessings in a Backpack, a national organization dedicated to ensuring that children in need receive food on the weekends throughout the school year. For the past three years, Delta Dental has adopted Fairview STEM Academy in Lansing and Harms Elementary School in Detroit.
  • A partnership with Think TV/PBS to promote good oral health and reading through a series of 15-second children’s oral health spots. These spots air every day during children’s morning programming in all Michigan PBS markets.
  • Our support of the SEAL! Michigan school-based children’s dental sealant program.

Sources: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General—Executive Summary. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, 2000.

U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2002, 2009, and 2011 Reading Assessments.

Alliance for Excellent Education, America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University. Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic. Annual Update, March 2012.

Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC. Poor Oral Health Can Mean Missed School, Lower Grades. August 2012.