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MORE HEALTH: Taking the Fear out of a First-Time Trip to the Dentist

“When we've taught a dental lesson, many of the students haven’t owned a toothbrush,” says Karen Pesce Buckenheimer, executive director of MORE Health, an almost 30-year-old organization with the goal of addressing health education in three counties in and around Tampa, Florida. “We hand them out and kids say, ‘I’m so excited to have my first toothbrush,’ or ‘I can’t wait to share this with my family.’”

Every day during the school year, 28 MORE instructors are teaching health education to every grade level at no charge to the school system. When MORE recently partnered with organizations to provide services alongside education (like dental), they began to notice a common thread: Kids were scared of going to the dentist for the first time.

Karen quickly saw the role that video could play in alleviating fears about dental services. MORE Health’s DTA Foundation grant led to a collaboration with an award-winning animator who has also worked with Disney. He became so passionate about the project that he donated some of his time to help bring the video to life, which is one of the ultimate goals of a DTA Foundation grant: it plants a seed that others come around and help to water and grow.

“DTA Foundation, with their mission and goal, is similar to ours: increase awareness of oral health impact on overall health,” Karen says. “We can take the message of oral health and spread it all over the country and the world.” With a few charming animated characters, they’ll likely do just that.

This story is excerpted from the 2016 DTA Foundation Annual Report. View the full report here.