More Kids Are Brushing Their Teeth for Two Minutes, Twice a Day—Including Mine!


As a mom who works for the Ad Council, I am often enlightened by (and even sometimes scared of) the information I learn from our campaigns. When we first began working with the Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives in 2011, I had no idea how huge the problem of children’s oral health was for our country — dental decay is currently the most common chronic childhood disease in the United States, affecting 16.5 million children. I also had no idea how much I could influence my own kids’ chances of having a healthy mouth throughout their lives.

To help inform our new communications campaign, the Ad Council, Grey and Wing began talking to parents across the country about their attitudes and behaviors surrounding their family’s oral health. Most of the parents we spoke with said the same thing I would — “I know that oral health is really important so I stay on top of my child to make sure they brush.” But when we went into their homes it was clear how much easier it is to say or feel this way than to actually implement into a daily routine. It was like looking into a mirror.

Moms and dads alike explained how they came home from work each day to chase, play, feed, clean and care for their kids. And, like my own home, this often involved a lot of arguing — “eat your dinner, do your homework, take a bath, clean up your toys, turn off the TV and get off the phone.” Many parents, despite understanding that tooth brushing is important to their child’s health, agreed that they often let the evening brush slide to avoid another argument before bed time. These parents were also surprised to learn how little time their kids were actually spending brushing — “definitely NOT two minutes, that’s kind of a long time.” I agreed when I began timing my own kids’ brushing sessions.

To get parents to think and act differently about this issue, Grey and Wing created a fun and light-hearted campaign that highlights all the silly and ridiculous ways that kids spend their time. The objective is to remind parents that their kids have the time to brush their teeth for two minutes, twice a day and that doing so will prevent oral pain later in life. Again, I could relate; if my two boys had the time dress up as superheros (see photo) they also had the time to brush more often and for a little longer than they did.


The wonderful part of our Children’s Oral Health campaign is that it recognizes that kids are not going to stop being silly. So the goal is to provide parents and kids tips and tools to help them brush regularly (and hopefully enjoy brushing). For instance — there are 2 minute videos on the campaign website for kids to watch while they brush. These can add some fun into the daily brushing routine (and maybe even help avoid the argument).

So, did the campaign work? Well, part of my job at the Ad Council is to measure the impact and deliver this great news…

The answer is yes!

In the first year since the campaign launched, more than one-half of English-speaking and more than 40 percent of Spanish-speaking parents across America have seen or heard our Children’s Oral Health PSAs. As a result, more than 1.3 million visitors have visited the campaign website and, according to a new Ad Council survey, more parents in 2013 report that they are doing a good job ensuring that their kids are regularly brushing. Subsequently more kids are brushing two times a day for two minutes.

These are among some of the best results we have seen for a campaign that has only been in market for one year. As for my boys, there are still no cavities and they too are regularly brushing for two minutes, twice a day. Fortunately, like many other families now, there are no arguments about it.

Sheri Klein

About Sheri Klein

As a Research Director, Sheri Klein is responsible for advising the planning and research process for the Ad Council’s public service campaigns. She is also responsible for evaluating campaign effectiveness and conducing cross-campaign analyses for the organization. A sociologist in training (and at heart), Sheri has been involved in social research for over 10 years and plans to chronicle research trends and best practices within the social marketing world.

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