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NCDHM awards

Campaign works to build cavity-free communities in South Carolina

In its "Cavity Free Community Campaign," the South Carolina Dental Association made the case that by teaching children of all ages and caregivers how to take care of their oral health, they could foster a cavity-free environment for the entire community and help prevent dental disease.

For the success of this campaign, SCDA was recognized as the first-place recipient in the 2008 Samuel D. Harris National Children's Dental Health Month State Program Awards.

The SCDA campaign comprised 12 activities targeted to a wide variety of audiences and focusing on teaching, mentoring and advocacy at the grassroots level, including:

  • Expect to be cavity free—prenatal to birth;
  • Born to be cavity free—infants to age 1;
  • Special to be cavity free—special needs children;
  • Grow to be cavity free—age 1 to age 3;
  • Learn to be cavity free—K4 to first grade;
  • Explore to be cavity free—second grade to middle school;
  • Mentor to be cavity free—middle school to high school;
  • Give to be cavity free—various resources, time and money;
  • Care to be cavity free—free and reduced services;
  • Proclaim to be cavity free—public relations;
  • Advocate to be cavity free—social and policy change;
  • Practice to be cavity free—unique efforts in various practice settings.

For these activities, SCDA partnered with state and local organizations to reach out to some 67,376 individuals during February 2008. Among the highlights of the campaign was a partnership with the Columbia, S.C., children's museum EdVenture to sponsor the Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry's traveling "The Future is Now: African Americans in Dentistry" exhibit.

Other partners in the SCDA campaign included the South Carolina State Department of Education; the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control's Oral Health Division; Family Connection, a families with special needs support group; the Columbia Marionette Theatre and its puppet shows honoring the work of a late pediatric dentist, Dr. Harry Sunshine; Commun-I-Care; SC Head Start and Early Head Start; dental auxiliary associations; and community health centers.

"We believe if we do our job at teaching our children and their caregivers to be cavity free, ultimately, over time, we will teach all of South Carolina to be cavity free," the SCDA award entry said. "Then, we will live in a 'Cavity Free Community'."

The first-place award comes with $2,000 from Oral Health America. This is SCDA's 14th national award for its Children's Dental Health Month programs.

Two other dental societies were recognized with 2008 NCDHM merit awards. The Pennsylvania Dental Association and New York State Dental Association each received $1,000 from Oral Health America. For more information about National Children's Dental Health Month activities, visit