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Ad Council: 'Children Should Brush Teeth for 2 Minutes, Twice Daily'

Brushing your child's teeth for two minutes twice a day can lead to better health in the long term.

According to a survey released by the Ad Council, less than half of parents in the U.S., or 44 percent, report that their child brushes their teeth twice a day or more - it's a number they hope to help raise with the Kids’ Healthy Mouths campaign.

In time for back-to-school season, the Ad Council is joining The Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives, a coalition of more than 35 leading dental health organizations, to debut Kids’ Healthy Mouths, their first joint national multimedia public service campaign designed to teach parents and caregivers, as well as children, about the importance of oral health and the simple ways in which they can help prevent oral disease. The English and Spanish-language public service ads are being distributed to media outlets nationwide currently.

Dental decay is the most common chronic childhood disease with more than 16 million kids suffering from untreated tooth decay in the U.S. The mouth is the gateway to a person’s overall health and an unhealthy mouth can be associated with obesity, diabetes and even heart disease. In the U.S., oral disease causes kids to miss 51 million school hours and their parents to lose 25 million work hours annually. Additionally, oral disease disproportionately affects children from low-income families and these children have almost twice the number of decayed teeth that have not been treated by a dentist as compared to others in the general population.

Created pro bono by ad agencies Grey Group and Wing in New York, the new Kids’ Healthy Mouths public service campaign is aimed at parents and caregivers throughout the U.S., particularly low-income families, and stresses the importance of brushing for two minutes twice a day.

According to the Ad Council survey released today, 60 percent of parents with children ages 12 or younger report that they do not regularly help their child brush their teeth or check to make sure they’ve done a good job. Additionally, close to one-third, or 31 percent, report arguing with their kids at least once a week about brushing their teeth. Parents also report that, on average, their child wastes over two hours each day on things that are silly or unnecessary, such as playing video games, texting, or watching an online video. The new campaign notes that some of this time could instead be focused on improving their oral health.

“The messages in this campaign may seem simple, but their impact will be felt for years to come,” said Gary Price, Secretary and CEO of the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation. “Most mouth disease is preventable using steps that can easily become a part of every child’s life routine. We are proud to be a part of such a broad partnership to help parents and caregivers learn how easy it is to protect their children, give them healthy mouths and help them lead healthy lives.”

The English and Spanish-language TV, radio, print, outdoor and digital PSAs poke fun at the myriad of inane things children spend their time doing and highlight that it only takes two minutes, twice a day to help maintain a healthy mouth and prevent future oral pain. An additional English and Spanish-language PSA features Elmo from Sesame Street singing to kids, reminding them to “Brushy Brush” their teeth every day as part of Sesame Street’s Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me campaign. The new campaign also includes a PSA featuring “Tooth” – the Tooth Fairy from Rise of the Guardians, the upcoming film from DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc..

“This is a great opportunity for Sesame Street to continue to use its influence to help families and their children make healthy decisions about oral health,” said Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President for Outreach and Educational Practices, Sesame Workshop. “We are excited to partner with the Ad Council when nurturing children’s overall development is so critical and the subsequent positive effects can last a lifetime.”

“We are thrilled to work with the Ad Council and support this campaign by helping to convey the importance of oral health,” said Susan Spencer, DreamWorks Animation’s Head of National Promotions and Marketing Services.

All of the PSAs direct parents and caregivers to a new website, 2min2x.org (which is available in English and Spanish, and includes a mobile version), where parents and children can watch entertaining videos and listen to music—all 2 minutes in length—while children are brushing their teeth. Campaign media partners, including Cartoon Network and My Kazoo!, donated snippets of videos and songs for the site. A series of social media strategies will also be implemented to engage parents and children, including messaging on Facebook and Twitter and a dedicated YouTube channel, where the 2-minute content will be featured.

"Joining the Ad Council for this worthy public service campaign is a unique opportunity for Cartoon Network and other youth entertainment media to serve together in supporting parents and children wellness," said Alice Cahn, vice president of social responsibility, Cartoon Network.

“As providers of entertainment to young children at MyKaZootv, we are especially concerned about their health and well being. Kids love music, and we hope our music videos help get kids brushing every day, twice a day. All the participating artists are proud to be part of the Ad Council campaign, “ said Rick Dobbis, co-founder of myKaZootv.

This campaign is the first in the Ad Council’s 70 year history to address oral health. The Ad Council is distributing the new PSAs to more than 33,000 media outlets nationwide and the ads will air and run in advertising time and space entirely donated by the media.

“The prevalence of oral disease, and its impact on youth in our country, is astounding,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “We are proud to join this wonderful collaboration to provide parents and children with simple and fun things they can do to improve children’s oral health, and I’m delighted that so many of our partners in the advertising, media and entertainment industries have come forward to lend their talent, support and resources.”

Several media companies have committed to supporting the PSAs prior to their launch.

“We were honored to assist the Ad Council in identifying strategic content partnerships for this worthy campaign. The importance of a healthy and beautiful smile resonates with the entertainment community, and providing 2-minute content is a fun and easy way for many partners to make a difference,” said Amy Tunick, President of Grey Alliance, the activation and public relations division of Grey Group.

“Oral health is a serious subject. When it concerns mothers and their children, the best creative approach is light and fun,” said Renata Florio, Chief Creative Officer of Wing, the Hispanic marketing agency of Grey Group. “Each commercial was intended to highlight the necessary balance of children’s time: if your child spends hours on playtime, why shouldn’t they spend 2 minutes taking care of their teeth? Working on the Ad Council Oral Health campaign was a pleasure and an important challenge for the agency.”

About the survey: The Ad Council survey was conducted online by LightSpeed Research June 19-25 with a sample of 601 English-speaking parents of children ages 0-12, from across the nation.

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