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Ad Council readying oral health campaign

April 23, 2012

Editor’s note: This is a statement from the Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives on the Oral Health Public Service Advertising Campaign in which the Association is participating.

A major national public awareness advertising campaign about oral health will start this summer.

The American Dental Association, along with 35 other groups in the dental community, formed the Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives and partnered with the Ad Council to produce this campaign. The Ad Council produces, distributes and promotes public service campaigns on behalf of nonprofit organizations and government agencies in issue areas such as improving the quality of life for children, preventive health, education, community well-being and strengthening families. The private, nonprofit organization is known for such iconic advertising campaigns as Smokey Bear’s “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires” and McGruff the Crime Dog’s “Take A Bite Out Of Crime.” These simple messages have been proven to motivate the public to take action.

The goal of the Partnership is to improve oral health in America and this campaign is the first step in meeting that goal. Ultimately, the Partnership wants to reach the entire population in North America to help them understand the critical importance of oral health and its relationship to total health. We know that a single three-year campaign alone will not solve the oral health literacy problem, but we are certain that this first step is an essential start to addressing this complex issue.

To raise the awareness of the importance of preventing dental disease and dental pain, we recognize that our success must be measured by increased knowledge of prevention, including brushing with fluoride toothpaste, flossing, good nutrition and seeing a dentist on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, oral health is not a priority for many Americans and many simply do not understand the need for good oral health practices.

We know that we must start somewhere and this advertising campaign is intended to get the public’s attention. Once we have their attention, we can begin to teach them about all the important components of good oral health.

Our first phase of this major literacy effort will be focused on caregivers of children. We will start with the basics: “Oral health is important and you can take specific action to start the process of preventing dental disease and dental pain.”

Millions of people do not understand even the basic elements of prevention such as brushing their teeth. By starting with certain simple, easily understood messages, we can focus attention on the actionable steps that people can take to improve their oral health. After this initial step, we think they will be more receptive to other components of total oral care.

There are four basic steps to good oral health: brushing with fluoride toothpaste, flossing, practicing good nutrition and seeing your dentist. Our primary goal is to have millions of American children start on the road to good health. By capturing the attention of caregivers, we hope to motivate them to take the first step toward implementing a lifetime of solid oral health habits.

Working with the Ad Council, we have conducted substantial research to find effective ways to reach caregivers and motivate them to protect their children from dental disease and dental pain. It was clear that a simple message was the most effective way to stimulate caregivers to take action.

The research has clearly led to the development of a major media campaign that will begin in the summer of 2012. Prior to the launch, we will distribute more information about the campaign and describe ways that you can help in launching this first major step in our long-term goal of good oral health for all of our citizens.

This is a major undertaking for our Partnership and the entire oral health community. You are a vital part of this campaign as we take our first step in the long process of achieving oral health in America.

The Partnership includes: the Academy of General Dentistry; Alliance of the American Dental Association; American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology; American Academy of Pediatrics; American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry; American Academy of Periodontology; American Association for Dental Research; American Association of Endodontists; American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons; American Association of Orthodontists; American Association of Public Health Dentistry; American Association of Women Dentists; American College of Prosthodontists; American Dental Assistants Association; American Dental Association; American Dental Education Association; American Dental Hygienists’ Association; Association of State & Territorial Dental Directors; California Dental Association; Children’s Dental Health Project; Connecticut Coalition for Oral Health; Dental Trade Alliance; DentaQuest; Hispanic Dental Association; Medicaid/SCHIP Dental Association; National Association of Dental Laboratories; National Children’s Oral Health Foundation; National Dental Association; National Network for Oral Health Access; Oral Health America; Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention; Santa Fe Group; Society for American Indian Dentists; and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.