Grants focus on reducing early childhood caries in North America

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Grants focus on reducing early childhood caries in North America

The Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future (ACFF) awards annual grants to improve the oral health of young children in Canada and the United States. According to the National Children's Oral Health Foundation, an estimated 2.26 million school days are missed in Canada each year due to dental related illness. (Photo: Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future)

Thu. 7 February 2019


TORONTO, Ontario, CANADA: The Canada-United States Chapter of the Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future (ACFF) has awarded four interprofessional grants totaling more than $50,000 (USD) to fund projects that will have a positive impact on reducing the instance of dental caries, which is reversible, for children aged 0-6. These projects will be carried out in 2019.

The grant program aims to bring together groups outside of dentistry, such as pediatrics and primary care, to help underserved communities. Made possible through funding from Colgate-Palmolive, the grants focus on populations with high caries needs and disadvantaged communities such as those with low incomes and or limited access to care.

Worldwide, 60 to 90 percent of school children and nearly 100 percent of adults have tooth decay.[1] In fact, dental caries (which includes all stages of tooth decay) is the most common, yet preventable, chronic disease on the planet. The impact of this disease has a profound impact on children in North America. In Canada, an estimated 2.26 million school days are missed each year due to dental related illness.[2] In the United States, a child is five times more likely to seek emergency room treatment for dental problems than for asthma, often because they can't see a dentist, are uninsured or can't afford routine dental care.[3]

“This grant funds projects that exemplify recognition of the need for interprofessional collaboration to address oral health needs,” said Robert Schroth, associate professor in the Department of Preventive Dental Science (Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry) and the Department of Pediatrics & Child Health (Max Rady College of Medicine), University of Manitoba, and co-chair, Canada-U.S. Chapter of the Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future. “It is through working together that we can find the best solutions and provide the most thoughtful approaches to prevent dental caries.”

The first grants were awarded in 2016. The alliance this year has been able to fund four recipients who have programs that aim to improve the oral health of children in various localities.

“We are very excited to have the opportunity to fund so many much-needed projects this year,” said Margherita Fontana, DDS, PhD, professor, University of Michigan School of Dentistry, and co-chair, Canada-U.S. Chapter of the Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future. “We believe these programs will have a significant impact on our ability to understand how interprofessional efforts can help address dental caries disparities.”

About the 2018 Winners

Promoting Oral Health: Healthier Mothers and Children through IP Collaboration (Eastern Washington University) – Through a student rotation, Eastern Washington University (EWU) dental hygiene students will implement an oral health education program in partnership with St. Margaret’s Shelter, transitional housing for women and children, including pregnant women. These students will provide oral health education, fluoride varnish, sealants, and establish a dental home. EWU Communication Sciences Disorders students will coordinate feeding, speech and hearing screenings. All students will work in collaboration with St. Margaret’s case workers.

Streamlining ECC hospital waitlists and public dental health integration (Northern Health Dental Program, BC) – This project hopes to address the barriers that are currently preventing young children from getting the dental surgery they need. Through facilitating a discussion with the affected partners, the team will explore, identify and start to implement quality improvements with in this referral process. In addition, the team will explore including an automatic referral option into the child’s hospital OR pre-screen form, to give every parent the choice to have their child visit the dental public health clinics for free FV applications and behavior change supports.

Dental Champions Leadership Program: Keeping Kansas Kids Cavity-Free (Oral Health Kansas, Inc.) – This is a continuation of the already established program, Dental Champions Leadership Program to increase the number of diverse voices advocating for improved oral health in Kansas. The Dental Champions program has helped OHK develop an inter-professional network of state-level “Champions” who hold progressive vision for improving oral health. A new class of Dental Champions will explore leadership, policy, and educational approaches to increasing the number of pregnant women and children under age three who are referred to and seen by a dental professional. The class will include dental and medical professionals, as well as public health officials and others.

Pediatric Patient Centered Approach to Integrating Oral Health into Primary Care (Project HOME, Philadelphia) – This initiative will focus on dental education and fluoride varnish applications for children in Lower North Philadelphia, a Dental Health Professional Shortage Area. By expanding dental services into primary care, the project aims to prevent carious lesions in primary dentition, reduce the need for surgical interventions, and help break the cycle of poor oral health care in North Philadelphia.

For those interested in finding resources on cavity prevention, more information can be found at

About The Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future

The Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future (ACFF) is a worldwide group of experts who have joined together to promote integrated clinical and public health action in order to stop caries initiation and progression in order to move towards a Cavity-Free Future for all age groups. Overall, the group believes that global collaborative action is needed to challenge global leaders and other regional and local stakeholders to learn the importance of caries as a disease continuum and to participate in action toward the delivery of comprehensive caries prevention and management that can positively influence the continuing problem of caries. By working together on a global, regional and local level, the ACFF challenges these stakeholders to stop caries NOW for the opportunity to have a Cavity-Free Future.

The ACFF was built in collaboration with a worldwide panel of experts in dentistry and public health. Given the goal of driving global collaborative action, the ACFF aims also to partner with global leaders and other stakeholders on a regional and local level — including country and community leaders, health and dental health professionals, public policy and education communities, and the public.

About Colgate-Palmolive

Colgate-Palmolive is a leading global consumer products company, tightly focused on Oral Care, Personal Care, Home Care and Pet Nutrition. Colgate sells its products in over 200 countries and territories around the world under such internationally recognized brand names as Colgate, Palmolive, Softsoap, Irish Spring, Protex, Sorriso, Kolynos, elmex, Tom’s of Maine, Sanex, Ajax, Axion, Soupline, and Suavitel, as well as Hill’s Science Diet, Hill’s Prescription Diet and Hill’s Ideal Balance. For more information about Colgate’s global business, visit the Company’s web site at


  1. World Health Organization, Report on Oral Health, 2003. Available at: Accessed Nov. 17, 2016.
  2. National Children's Oral Health Foundation. Facts about decay. Available at: Accessed Nov. 17, 2016.
  3. National Maternal and Child Oral Health Policy Center. Key Oral Health Messages. Available at: Accessed Nov. 17, 2016.

(Source: Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future)