Smiles Across American campaign targets schoolchildren

May 24, 2005
Program stresses importance of oral health and provides much-needed dental care to children

Oral Health America (OHA) and its corporate sponsor Cadbury Adams USA LLC have announced the launch of Trident Smiles Across America, a program dedicated to advancing public awareness of and access to oral health care through ongoing educational programs and services for school children. The campaign will provide underserved and uninsured children with school-based oral exams and disease prevention services, such as protective dental sealants.

The Trident Smiles Across America program responds directly to the health consequences that untreated oral disease can impose on a young person's development, including difficulty eating and sleeping, or concentrating in school. In fact, Oral Health America anticipates that more than 51 million school hours are lost each year due to dental illness, which inevitably hinders a child's performance and achievements in the classroom.

"The Trident Smiles Across America program reflects our commitment to improving the state of oral care in our country today," said Robert Klaus, president of Oral Health America, the Chicago-based advocacy group. "We see the program as an innovative strategy to proactively provide education and services to the children and adults who need it most."

Information provided by a new survey of 1,165 adults (18 years and older) with children in their household supports the need for the program. The survey puts forth the following conclusions:

Understanding of Oral Health: American parents do understand the vital importance of good oral health for their children. A reported 83 percent of respondents consider daily oral health to be equally or even more important than daily exercise. In addition, 92 percent of the surveyed parents confirm taking the time to teach their children about proper oral health.

Obstacles to Action: Unfortunately, not every parent is able to act on this good understanding by seeking out appropriate oral health care for his or her child. The survey suggests that an estimated 11.6 million U.S. families are unable to provide oral health care for their children — such as visiting a dentist on at least an annual basis — a frequency that is half the level recommended by leading practitioners.

Lack of Dental Insurance: The gap in care by these families is not one of neglect. The survey shows families that are not providing annual oral health care for their children are significantly less likely to have dental insurance. This lack of insurance, combined with the high cost of dental care, is a significant barrier for many families -- especially among lower income families. The margin of error for this sample size is +/- 2.9% at the 95% confidence interval. The results of this survey are weighted to represent the U.S. Population 18 years of age or older with children in the household (78,600,000).

The Trident Smiles Across America program encourages young people to practice good oral hygiene, such as brushing their teeth after meals, avoiding sticky and sugary foods and chewing sugarless gum to neutralize plaque acids in the mouth. This is important since half of the nation's children ages five to nine years old, and almost half of all 17-year-olds, have tooth decay. The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools now ranks tooth decay in children as five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever.

"There's a growing necessity to help underserved and uninsured children achieve better oral health care," said Vicky Lozano, Vice President, Gum Portfolio, Cadbury Adams USA LLC. "We understand our inherent role in this pursuit and will continue to support causes like 'Smiles Across America' to help children enjoy the life-long benefits of good oral health."

Oral Health America is the nation's premier, fully independent organization dedicated to improving oral health. For more information, visit

Cadbury Adams USA LLC, based in Parsippany, NJ, is the U.S. confectionery business unit of London-based Cadbury Schweppes plc, a global company that manufactures, distributes and markets branded confectionery and beverage products in approximately 200 countries. The brand portfolio of Cadbury Adams USA LLC and its affiliates includes Dentyne Ice, Dentyne Fire, Dentyne Tango, Trident and Trident White.