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Renaissance Dental Teams up with NEA’s Read Across America to Encourage Children to Pick up a Book and a Toothbrush

New partnership connects importance of children’s oral health and literacy


WASHINGTON - January 31, 2013 -

What do books and toothbrushes have in common? Much more than you might think.

Reports show that American students miss 51 million hours of school every year because of oral health problems. And students who are absent miss critical instruction time—especially in early grades where reading skills are an important focus and the building blocks of future learning.

If those stats aren’t alarming, chew on this: A study found that students who don’t read at grade level by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out than those who do. Recent findings out of the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC also showed students who have experienced recent oral health pain are four times more likely to have lower grade point averages than their counterparts who have not.

That’s why the 3 million members of the National Education Association are teaming up with Renaissance Dental through its Read Across America program to deliver a very important message: 2 x 2 + 20 = good oral health and literacy habits.

“We’re asking children and their parents to brush for two minutes, two times per day plus read for 20 minutes each day,” said Rob Mulligan, president and CEO at Renaissance Dental. “That’s a daily total of 24 minutes focused on developing good oral health and reading skills. We know that oral health and reading are directly linked to the well-being and success of a child in school. This partnership provides us with a national platform extending our ability to positively impact children and parents across the nation.”

The unique partnership also will infuse $500,000 to help bring books and toothbrushes to kids in need. The announcement comes on the eve of National Children’s Dental Health Month in February 2013, which is designed to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. Thanks to the financial backing from Renaissance Dental, the Cat in the Hat, mascot for NEA’s Read Across America, will be back on track with the popular Cat-a-Van Reading Tour, scheduled to hit the road the last week of February and culminate on Read Across America Day on Friday, March 1.

“Just as NEA’s Read Across America works to make reading fun for kids of all ages, we want to get kids excited about brushing their teeth, too,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “By teaming up with Renaissance Dental, we hope to reach millions of children through our award-winning reading program and elevate the awareness of the link between children’s oral health and literacy. As Dr. Seuss famously said, ‘Teeth are always in style.’”

Originally created as a one-day event to celebrate the joy of reading, Read Across America, sponsored by NEA and Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P., has grown into a nationwide initiative that promotes reading every day. Now in its 16th year, more than 45 million people young and old participate annually in the literacy program. With Dr. Seuss’s March 2nd birthday falling on a Saturday this year, the official Read Across America Day will be celebrated the preceding Friday to enable schools nationwide to participate in the reading fun.

About NEA
The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. Learn more at www.nea.org.

About Renaissance Dental
Renaissance Dental provides quality and affordable dental insurance to organizations and individuals nationwide. Customizable dental options can be designed for groups as small as two enrollees. Renaissance Dental is the flagship product of Renaissance Life & Health Insurance Company of America and Renaissance Health Insurance Company of New York. www.RenaissanceDental.com.

For more information about NEA’s Read Across America, visit www.nea.org/readacross 
To learn more about the link between oral health and literacy, check out http://2min2x.org
Find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/neareadacrossamerica 
Follow us on twitter at @NEAMedia

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CONTACT: Staci Maiers, National Education Association 
(202) 822-7150 or (202) 270-5333 cell, smaiers@nea.org

 Sarina Gleason, Renaissance Dental
(517) 347-5292 or (517) 256-5618 cell, sgleason@renaissancefamily.com