KUSA- It's called a "silent epidemic" in the state of Colorado: poor dental health in kids.
"It can impair a child's ability to eat, to form words," said Wyatt Hornsby with the Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation.
In Colorado, the public health numbers are staggering. Tooth decay affects about 40-percent of kindergartners and 55-percent of third graders. 9NEWS first brought you that story last year, as we followed one parent whose child needed oral surgery.
"I saw a little spot on one of his canine teeth and that's when I noticed, something's not right," said Cassidy Carter, as doctors operated on her son at Children's Hospital of Colorado.
A project to tackle the problem appears to be making a difference. Confronted with what they call a "Silent Epidemic," the Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation launched a campaign called "Cavities Get Around." They advertised on TV and the Internet, as well as reaching out to communities, where tooth decay hits kids the hardest.
"The issue of tooth decay in young children impacts lower-income populations," Hornsby said. "It shows those populations are hit hard, particularly the Hispanic community. The rates of early childhood tooth decay are significantly higher in that community."
One year later, HealthCare Research, Inc. recently conducted a survey of 600 low-income families across Colorado and found that the bilingual campaign appears to be making inroads into the problem.
Among the findings: regular juice consumption in young kids is down from 66-percent in 2014 to 47-percent now. Also, the number of kids in Colorado drinking tap water on a regular basis is up, from 41-percent to 63-percent. The foundation says they recommend if children drink juice, they should do so during mealtimes and then drink water in between meals.
The foundation hopes the changes the survey noted n parents will translate into better dental health in their children.
"This is only the beginning for us because we know it's a complicated, complex disease," Hornsby said.
The foundation plans to continue their "Cavities Get Around" campaign and are also putting together a program to place dental hygienists into some medical practices around Colorado. For more information on the campaign, go to cavitiesgetaround.com
(© 2016 KUSA)