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- Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases among U.S. children, and increasingly a disease of children from low-income households -

PARSIPPANY, NJ (March 18, 2008)

The Delta Dental of New Jersey Foundation announces its second annual Oral Health Education Initiative, highlighting the importance of oral health education throughout the school year. Grants are available for elementary schools in New Jersey Abbott school districts to initiate an oral health education program in their third-grade classes for the 2008-2009 school year.

Three schools, each from a separate district, will be chosen to receive a grant of up to $5,000 to fund the programs. This year, in an effort to bring comprehensive oral health education opportunities to a wider-range of students, the Foundation has expanded the application process to include Charter Schools within the New Jersey Abbott districts. 

Applicant schools are asked to develop individual oral health education programs made up of ten monthly activities, working toward helping children understand the following: why it is important to maintain proper daily oral hygiene; how to properly brush and floss; the function of the dentist and hygienist; the relationship between oral health and food choices; and the relationship between oral health and overall health. The programs can include monthly activities such as an oral health bulletin board, a field trip to a dentist’s office, or reading a book about oral health. 

“With tooth decay being the single most common chronic disease of childhood – five to eight times more common than asthma, according to the American Dental Association, the Foundation acknowledged the need for expanded oral health education in New Jersey’s elementary curriculum,” said Diane Belle, vice president of the Delta Dental of New Jersey Foundation. “Through the Oral Health Education Initiative, we have begun to bring attention to the importance of comprehensive oral health education, and look forward to continuing to work with educators to instill good oral health habits for students.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that tooth decay affects more than one-fourth of U.S. children aged 2 to 5 and half of those aged 12 to 15. Children from low-income families are hardest hit. Untreated cavities, with the disease resulting in pain, can cause dysfunction, absence from school, being underweight, or having poor appearance – all problems that can greatly reduce a child’s capacity to succeed in the educational environment, as well as outside of school. The good news is that through proper oral hygiene and nutrition, childhood tooth decay can be prevented.

Winning schools from the 2007-2008 grant cycle are already well underway with their oral health education curriculums. The Foundation is in the process of visiting these schools which include: Jotham W. Wakeman Elementary School in Jersey City, Heywood Avenue Elementary School in Orange, Joseph C. Caruso Elementary School in Keansburg, and Redshaw and Lincoln Annex Elementary School in New Brunswick, to observe selected lessons and take part in the educational process.

“Delta Dental is proud to be involved in the educational process and looks forward to following the winning schools on their journey encouraging and teaching good oral health,” said Belle.

The Delta Dental Oral Health Education Initiative Grant is open to elementary schools in all New Jersey Abbott districts, including Charter Schools, which have third grade. Delta Dental will be accepting applications until June 16, 2008. Grantees will be notified before July 31, 2008. To apply, or for more information, contact Kimberly Elmore at (973) 944-4555 or visit and click on Foundation.

About Delta Dental of New Jersey
Delta Dental of New Jersey, Inc., is New Jersey’s and Connecticut's leading dental benefits carrier, providing coverage to more than one million people through contracts with employers in New Jersey and Connecticut. The Delta Dental system offers seamless dental benefits administration for employer groups throughout the country and the largest network of credentialed dentists in the nation. For more information visit us on the Web at

About the Delta Dental of New Jersey Foundation
Delta Dental established the Delta Dental of New Jersey Foundation in 1986. Its mission includes promoting and assisting educational projects devoted to the enhancement of dental health, research programs designed to increase public awareness of the general benefits of good health, and to improve dental health through the science of dentistry. Each year, the Delta Dental Foundation provides financial support to various organizations throughout the state.

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Kim Elmore
Delta Dental of New Jersey