Closing America's Smile Gap: Partnering for Better Oral Health Access, Education and Representation for Kids in the U.S

A red and dark blue typeface logo for Crest sits next to a typeface logo for Oral B, with white font and a blue background. The hashtag for the "Closing America's Smile Gap" campaign is placed beneath the logos.

It’s pretty tough being a kid these days. And back-to-school season can bring its own set of new challenges between taking tests, fitting in, making the team and everything else in between. If you’re one of the millions of children without basic oral care supplies, it’s even more challenging. A toothbrush and toothpaste can be a real game-changer for them.

Marking the next step in Crest and Oral-B’s #ClosingAmericasSmileGap initiative, the brands teamed up with actor, director, activist and former teacher Jesse Williams to shed light on the fact that millions of kids in the U.S. go without basic oral care supplies every day.

“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,” said Williams. “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.”

Crest and Oral-B’s #ClosingAmericasSmileGap initiative was launched in 2021 to address the painful reality that many kids in underserved communities don’t have access to the oral care they need.

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To underscore the critical need for oral healthcare among these communities, Crest and Oral-B have released a new creative, and a “U.S. Kids’ Oral Health Report Card” that illustrates the shocking discrepancies in access, affordability and education between low and high-income families in the U.S.

Top findings include:

  • Nearly 90% (7 in 8) U.S. adults don’t know tooth decay is the number one chronic disease for children.
  • Almost 50% of American children have at least one cavity by age 6.
  • Nearly half (44%) of children in low-income households brush less than the recommended amount of twice per day, while 73% of high-income children brush twice or more a day.
  • Parents in low-income households are less likely to prioritize oral health products in their household budget, ranking cell phone service above oral health products in a list of household necessities.
  • High-income households are more likely to be able to take their kids to the dentist during school/working hours.
  • One third (33%) of low-income parents say they can’t afford to take their children to the dentist.
You can read the full report card here.

Carlos Quintero, Vice President of Oral Care, North America at Procter & Gamble, emphasizes the significance of the "U.S. Kids' Oral Health Report Card" in driving their mission forward. Quintero states, "The 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." In addition to the report card, Crest and Oral-B are hosting oral care access events in hard-hit communities, providing free dental screenings, oral health education, and oral care products to those in need.

Crest and oral-B believe every kid has the right to a healthy smile, and through the #ClosingAmericasSmileGap initiative, the Brands remain committed to increasing access, education and representation to all of those in need.

Click here to learn more about how you can join forces with Crest and Oral-B in this important initiative. Together, we can ensure that every child has a healthy smile and the opportunity to thrive.