Esperança receives $25K grant for oral health workshops


Delta Dental of Arizona gave a $25K grant to the Esperança foundation to hold workshops in Metro Phoenix Title 1 school districts, educating under-served populations on tooth care. (Submitted photo)

Thanks to a $25K grant from Delta Dental of Arizona, Esperança’s foundation enables health educators to conduct workshops in Title 1 school districts throughout Metro Phoenix, teaching children how to care for their teeth.

Although a foundation of good oral health habits starts with educating children early, in some populations, that is not the case, according to a press release. Often oral health education is not emphasized and tooth decay runs rampant in under-served Latino communities.

Esperança’s bilingual and bicultural health educators provide valuable education and referrals for free or low-cost dental care to uninsured and underinsured children and families in Phoenix, the release said.

Sessions occur in community-based dental clinics, schools and other appropriate locations that serve the target population. Esperança projects to serve about 12,000 children during the next three years, the release noted.

“Poor oral health is surprisingly prevalent in the communities we serve and leads to many health issues that most people don’t associate with brushing their teeth. Oral health is directly related to chronic disease, and both are at a disproportionately high rate due to economic and language barriers in many Phoenix communities,” said Jeri Royce, Esperança’s chief executive officer, in a prepared statement.

Partner districts include Roosevelt, Murphy, Isaac, Alhambra, Washington, Tolleson, Osborn and Phoenix Union School Districts. Appropriate lessons, visual aids, activities and evaluations have been compiled from those provided by the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation; Colgate’s Bright Smiles, Bright Futures; Lessons in a Lunchbox; and more, to form age-appropriate curricula.

In addition to increasing oral health literacy, children and adults receive Smile Bags with tooth brushes, toothpaste, floss and brushing timers to implement oral health daily practices learned.

The release added that health educators will refer children and adults to partnering no- and low-cost dental clinic for direct dental services, including comprehensive preventative and restorative care.

“Tooth decay, which is largely preventable, remains one of the most common chronic diseases for children,” said Delta Dental of Arizona Chief Executive Officer Allan Allford in a prepared statement. “We believe in Esperança’s approach to improving children’s oral heath in Arizona by providing educational opportunities to our youth and are proud to support them in their mission.”

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