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Sharing Smiles Across Iowa with 316,000 Toothbrushes Donated in 2023

Posted on January 19, 2024 in Healthy Living

Child Holding Toothbrush

For more than 20 years, Delta Dental of Iowa and its Foundation has been sharing smiles and educating Iowans on the importance of oral hygiene through the toothbrush donation program. 

In 2023, the Foundation donated 316,000 toothbrushes to nonprofits, I-Smile/I-Smile Silver and the Gives Smiles programs. Since the program’s inception, Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation has donated more than 3.6 million toothbrushes across all of Iowa’s 99 counties.

FUN FACT: If lined up end-to-end, 3.6 million toothbrushes would span more than 426 miles or the distance driving from Des Moines, Iowa to Indianapolis, Indiana.

A healthy smile is important for overall well-being and starts with the simple habit of brushing. The Foundation partners with local organizations to provide toothbrushes and then the local organization educates Iowans about the importance of good oral hygiene and its impact on overall health.

Benefit from brushing 

Did you know that brushing does more than just clean your teeth? If you stick to a daily brushing routine, you can also improve your overall health. Here’s how brushing helps:

  • Improves overall mouth health with less tooth decay, gum disease and better breath
  • Lowers chances of pneumonia or respiratory issues by reducing the bacteria in your mouth
  • Lowers risk for heart disease and stroke by avoiding inflammation and infection

All you need to benefit from brushing is fluoride toothpaste, good brushing form, and a consistent routine — brushing twice a day for two minutes each time.

Who receives toothbrush donations? 

Each year, organizations from across Iowa apply to receive toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss to reinforce proper dental care for Iowans of all ages. Organizations are required to include an oral health education component with the toothbrush donation.

Here are a few examples of organizations that received toothbrush donations in 2023.

  • Early Health Start and Head Start programs, statewide –toothbrush donations support a daily classroom toothbrushing program and education to discuss the “how-to” of good oral health care with the young children in their programs.
  • Eagle Grove Community School District – in this rural Iowa school district, accessibility to dental care is limited. The school nurse partnered with local dentists to provide oral health education to elementary students and their families.
  • Des Moines Refugee Support, central Iowa – oral health screenings and oral health education were provided to the refugee population through a Back to School event.
  • Iowa Black Doula Collective, statewide – oral health education was provided in collaboration with Healthy Birth Day Count the Kicks to encourage brushing and dental visits throughout pregnancy. Toothbrushes were provided to attendees at community baby shower events hosted throughout the year.
  • Spencer Hospital, northwest Iowa – toothbrushes were part of an educational program to support patients with diabetes and help them understand the critical connection between oral health and overall health.

How to participate

Applications for the toothbrush donation program are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year. Iowa nonprofit organizations may request toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss needed to support their oral health education programs on the Delta Dental of Iowa website.