“Sugar Wars” is the 2016 campaign theme for National Children’s Dental Health Month. This month-long American Dental Association (ADA) health observance promotes the benefits of good oral health to children
and their caregivers.

Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood in the United States. Untreated tooth decay can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning.

  • About 1 of 5 children aged 5 to 11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
  • 1 of 7 adolescents aged 12 to 19 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
  • Fluoride varnish, a high concentration fluoride coating that is painted on teeth, can prevent about 1/3 of decay in the primary (baby) teeth.

What Parents and Caregivers Can Do

Here are some preventive tips from the Centers for Disease Control to keep in mind when it comes to preventing tooth decay in your kids.

  • Use fluoride toothpaste. If your child is younger than age 2, do not use fluoride toothpaste unless your doctor or dentist tells you to.
  • See some simple steps for children’s oral care at Brush Up On Healthy Teeth.
  • If your drinking water is not fluoridated, ask your dentist or pediatrician if your child needs oral fluoride supplements like drops or tablets. Your Pearson dental plan provides for one topical fluoride treatment per calendar year for children up to age 19*.
  • Talk to your child’s dentist about sealants, which protect teeth from decay. Your Pearson dental coverage provides for one application of sealant material every 5 years for a child up to age 16*.

*If you participate in the Cigna DHMO, the same services are covered; however, you must use providers associated with the DHMO (except in the case of emergencies) in order to receive benefits. If you do not use a DHMO provider, you will not receive benefits from the plan.


It’s no secret that sugar can wreak havoc on our teeth, and it is particularly challenging to protect children from long-term damage. Check out the following tooth-friendly tips to help fight the damage that sugar can do to a child’s teeth.

  • Limit between-meal snacks. This reduces the number of acid attacks on teeth and gives teeth a chance to repair themselves.
  • Save candy, cookies, soda, and other sugary drinks for special occasions.
  • Make sure your child doesn’t eat or drink anything with sugar in it after bedtime tooth brushing. Saliva flow decreases during sleep. Without enough saliva, teeth are less able to repair themselves after an acid attack.

Sources: CDC; American Academy of Pediatrics