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Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation Takes on State's "Silent Epidemic" in New Campaign

Cavities Get Around Educates Community on Importance of Baby Teeth and Limiting Sugary Drinks

DENVER, CO--(Marketwired - August 11, 2014) - Despite the pervasive myth, baby teeth are important to a child's long-term health. That's because cavities in baby teeth can spread to adult teeth and sugary drinks, like juice, fuel cavity-causing bacteria. These are the messages behind a new multi-year campaign, Cavities Get Around, that Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation launched today.

Cavities Get Around comes from research underscoring a need for more information about the importance of baby teeth and the negative effects sugary drinks have on children's dental health. In some cases, juice has as much sugar as soda. When consumed throughout the day, this sugar fuels bacteria that cause baby teeth cavities. Sugar can contribute to other problems as well, such as childhood obesity and diabetes. According to a 2014 Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation survey:

  • 87% of parents give their children juice at least several times a week and 55% say the beverage their child is most likely to walk around with during the day is juice.
  • 72% of parents believe juice is important for the health and nutrition of their child (when in reality one glass of juice can have as much sugar as an 8-ounce glass of soda; sugar fuels bacteria that leads to cavities).

Termed a "silent epidemic" by then-Surgeon General David Satcher, MD, PhD, in the "Oral Health in America" report, tooth decay often goes unnoticed and untreated -- until there is unbearable pain.

"Last year, over 3,100 children visited the operating room for emergency dental surgery at Children's Hospital Colorado," says pediatric dentist Scott Hamilton, DDS, director of the Cavity Free at Three Clinic at Children's Hospital Colorado and a member of the Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation board of directors. "This epidemic is not just about poor brushing -- it's also about kids being exposed throughout the day to sugary beverages that harm the thin enamel on their teeth. Tooth decay in young children is a complex problem, but we believe it's essential to limit consumption of sugary drinks, like juice, to mealtimes to keep cavity-causing sugars off the teeth as much as possible."

Tooth decay is almost entirely preventable. Yet, according to a 2012 Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment report, 40% of Colorado kindergartners and 55% of 3rd graders had already experienced cavities. Cavities, when untreated, the report notes, "can result in loss of tooth structure, inadequate tooth function, unsightly appearance, pain, infection and tooth loss."

"It's heartbreaking to see young kids in pain because of a disease we can prevent," says Barbara Springer, executive director of Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation. "With solid research backing up our messages, we believe the Cavities Get Around campaign and education on sugary drinks can serve as a model for other communities and states to use in the battle against early childhood tooth decay. Until we change the existing perceptions of baby teeth and the importance of children's dental health, kids in Colorado -- and across the country -- will continue to suffer. That's not okay, because it's a problem that is undermining the great potential of our children."

The bilingual Cavities Get Around campaign will inform the community about how to protect children against tooth decay via a paid media campaign in Denver and Pueblo, including TV, radio and digital advertising, a website (www.CavitiesGetAround.com), earned media outreach, community health worker programs, partnerships and grassroots events. The website serves as a resource for members of the community to learn how important baby teeth are and how to care for them properly. The campaign will also engage community leaders on the issue of oral health in Colorado.

To get involved or for more information, visit www.CavitiesGetAround.com.

About the Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation
The Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation's mission is to improve Colorado's oral health by eradicating childhood tooth decay. We strive to create innovative programs with measurable results. In the last decade, we've worked to understand the oral health needs of our state and supported opportunities to provide needed services. We maintain a passionate belief that, because oral disease is largely preventable, the work we are doing will result in more healthy smiles across Colorado.

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