The International Federation of Dental Hygienists (IFDH) has formed a partnership with the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation’s America’s Toothfairy® program to increase public awareness of oral disease prevention and promote positive oral health behaviors among underserved children and their families.

Though it is nearly 100% preventable, pediatric dental disease is one of the most prevalent chronic childhood diseases in America and affects 60% to 90% of school children worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

This partnership will provide multiple opportunities for IFDH members to expand their roles as community health educators and oral health advocates by participating in America’s ToothFairy programs.

Throughout February—National Children’s Dental Health Month—dental hygienists across the United States will join the America’s ToothFairy Smile Drive, a national campaign to raise oral health awareness and collect oral care products for children. Dental hygienists and dental hygiene students will participate by holding toothbrush and toothpaste collection drives at their dental practice, school, pharmacy, or other location and donating the collected items to nonprofit charities serving children in their community.

Dental hygienists will also participate in the Esther Wilkins Education Program (EWEP), an America’s ToothFairy initiative that builds on the role of dental hygienists and dental hygiene students as prevention specialists by providing educational assets for community outreach activities. These assets include the ToothFairy 101 Community Education Kit, a tool for improving oral health literacy covering nutrition, germ transmission and prevention, mouth safety, tobacco, and infant care, as well as basic preventive strategies appropriate for children of all ages and learning levels. In return for the kit, members of the program agree to conduct a minimum of four community educational activities annually. Last year, EWEP members reached nearly 50,000 children and caregivers across the United States, Canada, and internationally through mission trips and international volunteerism.

“We are proud to work alongside America’s ToothFairy: National Children’s Oral Health Foundation to mutually advance our missions through an array of joint activities,” said JoAnn Gurenlian, RDH, PhD, president of IFDH. “This partnership will provide new opportunities to drive positive oral health behaviors among children and their families and increase public awareness that oral disease can be prevented through proven regimens.”