Say “cheese” for the Share Your Smile with Alabama photo contest
Alabama officials are asking kids to show off their best grins. The Alabama Department of Public Health’s “Share Your Smile with Alabama” photo contest is happening now through November 30. The campaign is in its seventh year.
Parents and guardians across the state are asked to help showcase their child’s smile for a chance to win prizes. The contest is limited to third grade students in public or private schools in Alabama and to children ages eight to ten years old taking part in home school.
Dr. Tommy Johnson is the State Dental Director for ADPH. He says the contest was created to bring attention to the importance of good oral health.
“I designed this this campaign so that it would bring attention to the month of February for that very reason,” he said. “The whole reason behind National Children's Dental Health Month is to bring attention to the importance of good oral health, not just as a child, but as you progress through life. When you're young [and] when it comes to good oral health, they have an effect from that point forward.”
Dr. Johnson said the photo contest started off as a way to bring attention to oral health and used the month of February as the platform, but he said it eventually evolved into something else.
“It's kind of morphed a little bit beyond that. We've actually taken it in and incorporated some other things, such as preventive dental visits for children but also the importance of community water fluoridation the effect that has on decay. Also, HPV vaccines at an early age for both boys and girls. In the third grade, which is the age which this contest focuses, that's the perfect age to have those conversations [and] initiate the HPV vaccine.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV vaccines, or human papillomavirus vaccines, are vaccines that help prevent infection by certain types of human papillomavirus that can cause cancers and precancers. The CDC says children ages eleven to twelve years should get two doses of HPV vaccine, given six to twelve months apart. HPV vaccines can be given starting at age nine.
Dr. Johnson said a foundation of oral health is important to young people because it can affect other parts of the body as they age.
“It has been shown to affect every part of the body. Later in life, it affects things as far as the heart. It’s linked to things such as diabetes, dementia,” he explained. “Even though we're promoting it this early on in life, as far with children, it does make an effect at this stage, as far as helping cut down on decay and pain. You get a tooth ache, and obviously that's not something that's a comfortable situation. It can take you away from school. It can take your parents away from being able to go to work because they are home with you. But the long-term effects of it are most definitely profound.”
The “Share Your Smile with Alabama” photo contest runs through the end of the month. The entry period closes on November 30 at midnight CST. The ADPH Bureau of Family Health Services will then select two grand prize winners, which will be announced on January 23.
According to the contest website, winners and their parents will be invited to attend a live news conference at the Alabama Department of Public Health in Montgomery. Winners also will be highlighted in ADPH marketing campaigns to promote children's oral health throughout the state.
More details on the “Share Your Smile with Alabama” photo contest can be found here.