Smile Vermont
Vermont Department of Health

Increase awareness of oral health services for children

The Smile Vermont campaign, a three-year public awareness initiative partially funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was designed to increase awareness and use of oral health services among participants in Vermont’s insurance program for children, Dr. Dynasaur.

The Challenge

Robert Wood Johnson FoundationLow-income parents, minority, teen, and special needs populations and participants in Vermont’s insurance program for children experienced many barriers to accessing oral health services. How could our public health and outreach campaign increase awareness and reduce the barriers?

Insight: Many parents were not aware of the services available or feared stigma

Formative research with emotionally-sensitive populations exposed a lack of awareness of services available and how or when to access oral health services for children, as well as concern about stigma against participants in the Dr. Dynasaur program.

Smile Vermont key findings report


Employ a communications strategy to reach Vermonters with information about how and when to access oral health care for children.

Work with an advisory committee of oral health professionals to develop campaign materials to help parents access oral health services for their children.

Work with the advisory committee of oral health professionals to develop materials to reduce stigma by helping providers and staff to better understand the needs of lower-income and under-served families.

Reach teens through schools and community centers with a giveaway to encourage cleanings and check-ups.

Conduct community events for children (bowling, ice skating, movies) during school vacations in underserved areas to raise awareness of oral health care for children.

Oral Health Smile brochure

How We Helped

After conducting formative research, we worked with the Vermont Department of Health and an advisory committee of dentists, hygienists, and professional societies to develop and implement a multi-year public information campaign and creative materials to increase awareness and use of oral health services.


  • barriers-motivators focus groups
  • message testing focus groups
  • pre- and post-campaign surveys
  • branding
  • social marketing plan
  • campaign identity
  • campaign website design and development
  • advertising: TV, radio and print ads
  • print collateral and production
  • teen poster and giveaway
  • teen poster and giveaway
  • organized free community events
  • promotional items
  • public outreach
  • outreach to dental professionals


  • Post campaign survey results indicate that the greater exposure a parent or guardian had to the Smile Vermont campaign, the greater the likelihood they would respond correctly to the five knowledge questions about basic preventive oral health practices.
  • Medicaid enrolled children (52% of Vermont children) receiving dental services increased three percent.
  • Heavy website use and increased dental utilization for Dr. Dynasaur enrolled children in Vermont.

VDH Smile toothfairy skating event