Building Brighter Futures

Delta Dental of Michigan’s Building 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 Building Brighter Futures is improving children’s oral health and school success, and we have developed and continue to 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.
  • Chew on This!—an interactive oral health exhibit at the Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing.
  • 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 educates children and adults on the health consequences of drinking sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • The “Drool is Cool” video series, which focuses on important oral health and overall health-related topics for children and parents.
  • A school option program with Many Hands, an organization dedicated to ensuring children in need receive food on the weekends throughout the school year. Delta Dental has adopted Fairview STEM Academy, Reo Elementary and Attwood Elementary 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.

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.

Looking for educational resources? Visit our Tools and Resources page today!

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, “Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General (Executive Summary),” web.
National Center for Education Statistics, “The Nation’s Report Card: Reading,” 2002, 2009 and 2011, web.
America’s Promise Alliance, “Building a Grad Nation Report,” 2012, web.
Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, “Poor Oral Health Can Mean Missed School, Lower Grades,” web.