Copyright The Advertising Council, 2012
A new ad campaign from the Advertising Council wants to help children learn to brush their teeth for a full two minutes. The campaign, which is directed at parents and caregivers in low income families, stresses the importance of having children brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day. To help encourage brushing, the Ad Council has teamed up with popular children’s television networks, Cartoon Network and My Kazoo, to provide 14 two minute videos that kids can watch while brushing their teeth. The campaign is aimed at low income families after a report by the CDC showed that oral disease disproportionately affects low income children. Children in these families have almost twice the number of decayed teeth as children in the general population.
The campaign encourages parents to have children watch the videos on smart phones or other mobile devices while brushing their teeth. The CEO of the Ad Council feels that this suggestion will be widely adopted because smart phones have become ubiquitous, and they provide low income families with easy access to the Internet. Additionally, the campaign has chosen not to focus on the pain or fear that can be associated with oral health care. The Ad Council hopes that parents will pay more attention to these types of positive messages and encourage their children to brush their teeth.
Related research from USC that was just released also supports the importance of this ad campaign. In the study researchers tracked the oral health and academic performance of low income children in Los Angeles. Poor oral health not only disproportionately affects low income children, but researchers were also able to show that poor oral health can lead to poor attendance records and poor academic achievement.
Although oral health is a serious problem for low income children, this new ad campaign has received mixed results from public health officials. While some experts feel that the ad campaign is a good start, they feel that a focus on brushing techniques could improve the message. Others also feel that low income parents may be stressed for time and playing the videos could become a burden.
Schubert Center Faculty Associate and Chair of the Department of Community Dentistry, James Lalumandier works to provide children with access to oral health care. Click here to download a policy brief on his work with the the Healthy Smiles Sealant Program.