Now in its third year, the Closing America’s Smile Gap campaign has re-launched for 2023 with a ‘you-buy we’ll-give‘ incentive. Between August 1 to September 30, for each purchase of a Crest or Oral-B product, Procter & Gamble will donate an oral healthcare product (up to 500,000) to a child in need. Crest and Oral-B are Procter & Gamble brands.
The oral healthcare campaign coincides with back-to-school season, to help low-income children to succeed at school without the distraction of cavities, dental pain, and the lack of confidence that derives from poor dental hygiene.
An Integrated Campaign to Close America’s Smile Gap
In addition to product donations, the Closing America’s Smile Gap campaign includes:
- hosting 20 dental care access events in underserved communities
- educating parents and children about the benefits of healthy oral care habits and frequent dental visits
- establishing a scholarship program for minority dental students to bring more diversity into the dental profession
- partnerships with nonprofits such as America’s Tooth Fairy to help distribute oral health products to local dental practices in marginalized communities
Procter & Gamble plans to partner with over 400,000 dental professionals in all 50 states to provide oral care to 20 million people by 2030.
There is an advocacy component to the #ClosingAmericasSmileGap campaign as well. Last year, for instance, Procter & Gamble highlighted America’s Smile Gap with a full-page ad in The New York Times, outdoor advertising in Times Square, video advertising, and sponsored content.
Closing America’s Smile Gap — Sponsored Content
Once again in 2023, Crest and Oral-B have deployed sponsored content to promote the Closing America’s Smile Gap campaign. In the following example, television station KATU delivers the campaign’s talking points and encourages its viewers to participate in free dental screenings and fluoride treatments by dental professionals:
Cause partnerships with celebrity influencers also help spread the word. This year, Crest and Oral-B have partnered with actor, director, activist and former teacher Jesse Williams, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Dr. Jackson Avery on the ABC medical drama Grey’s Anatomy. According to Williams: “As a child growing up in disenfranchised communities, and as a former teacher in a low-income school district, I’ve seen first-hand how a lack of resources can significantly impact kids’ confidence and academic performance, which can ultimately lead to missed opportunities. The basic necessities we take for granted — like a toothbrush, toothpaste and routine dental checkups — can be game-changers for those without access. That’s why I’m proud to partner with Crest and Oral-B to help end oral health inequity and close America’s smile gap.”
The ‘Smile Gap’ in Underserved Communities
The Journal of the American Dental Association recently published a study which highlights the ongoing lack of access to oral health care in low-income households, with 40% suffering from untreated cavities (in comparison to 9% of groups that are not low-income). 91% of dentists work in private practice, limiting access for those who can’t afford the out-of-pocket costs of dental care. Without insurance, low-income households often have to wait until an issue becomes an emergency to seek treatment.
And living with oral health issues can have a significant impact on the 15% of children who have to delay dental care due to cost. In a press release for the campaign, celebrity spokesperson Jesse Williams said, “As a child growing up in disenfranchised communities, and as a former teacher in a low-income school district, I’ve seen first-hand how a lack of resources can significantly impact kids’ confidence and academic performance, which can ultimately lead to missed opportunities.”
According to the following video statement by Procter & Gamble: “There is an oral health crisis in America — and the ones suffering the most are kids. Underserved communities in America are experiencing a disparity in access to dental care. Many children don’t even own a toothbrush or visit a dentist until they’re much older. Black and Hispanic kids are the most affected. Black children are two times as likely to have poor oral health. And Hispanic children are four times as likely… Closing America’s smile gap means a better future for kids filled with more confidence, more opportunity, and a million more smiles.”
The U.S. Kids’ Oral Health Report Card
To shed light on the millions of American children who go without basic oral care healthcare, Procter & Gamble created this Oral Health Report Card:
“The U.S. Kids’ Oral Health Report Card illustrates the state of America’s Smile Gap for kids in underserved communities and motivates us to continue the important work we do at Crest and Oral-B to help close it,” says Carlos Quintero, Vice President of Oral Care, North America at Procter & Gamble.