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Smile Squared Donates Toothbrushes to Children in Need

A buy-one-give-one program brightens the smiles of kids in living in poverty around the world.

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By Michelle Juergen

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1 billion children live in poverty around the world.

Worldwide, 60 to 90 percent of schoolchildren and almost 100 percent of adults have dental cavities.

In the U.S., 25 percent of children ages 6 to 11 and 59 percent ages 12 to 19 have tooth decay.

4.5 million children develop pediatric dental disease annually in the U.S.

Sources: Homes for Hope, World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Children's Oral Health Foundation

While working at a Guatemalan dental clinic in 2010, Eric and Geri Cope were struck by the number of local children who couldn't afford an everyday item most of us take for granted: a toothbrush. "That small basic necessity on our part was truly, with these kids, a luxury," Eric says.

Toothbrushes help counteract serious health issues, including oral cancer; some studies have even linked periodontal disease to conditions such as heart disease and stroke. Determined to help kids avoid such problems, in 2011 the married couple founded Smile Squared, a St. Louis-based company that donates one toothbrush to a child for every one purchased.

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