The Children’s Oral Health and Nutrition  Project

There is a disease that has been skyrocketing over recent decades. It is a global pandemic. According the the World Health Organization, it is the most common chronic disease of childhood  affecting 60-90% of children worldwide, far more than any other disease. What is it? Tooth decay.

Karen Sokal-Gutiérrez


The Children’s Oral Health and Nutrition Project began in 2004 as a collaboration among universities, NGOs, Ministries of Health, and businesses to improve children’s health and educational potential by promotion of nutrition and oral health, and prevention of tooth decay and malnutrition from birth. The program works in El Salvador, Honduras, Ecuador, Perú, Vietnam, Nepal, India and Kenya.
How you can help?
» $5 will provide oral health supplies for one child for one year.
» $50 will provide oral health supplies for an entire family, which may include up to 10 persons.
» $500 will provide oral health supplies for an entire preschool that may serve 100 children.
» $1,000 will provide oral health supplies to a village of children for one year.
» $5,000 will provide a scholarship for a university student to volunteer in-country with the Project.
» $10,000 will provide technical assistance to start up the Project in a new country.
To make an online donation to the Children’s Oral Health and Nutrition Project at University of California, click here.
The program has developed and tested an innovative, low-cost, community-based preventive intervention through community health workers who:
» Educate families of children 0-6 years on good oral health and avoiding junk foods/drinks.
» Provide toothbrushes and toothpaste.
» Apply fluoride varnish.
» Refer to dental care.  
Preliminary results show substantial improvements in mothers’ knowledge and practices, and reductions in children’s tooth decay, mouth pain and malnutrition. The program has been greatly appreciated by the local communities. The teachers report that, since children are not suffering from severe tooth decay and mouth pain, they are: 
» Far healthier.
» Have better school attendance.
» Are more ready to learn.
A mother articulately summarized the program’s aims saying,
“We used to think that there was nothing we could do about our children’s rotten teeth and mouth pain—it was just a fact of life here. But now childhood doesn’t have to be a time of pain and malnutrition—it can be a time of good health and happiness.” 
NUTRITION TRANSITION: Around the world, globalization has led to a “nutrition transition” in child feeding practices:
» From breastfeeding to bottle feeding.
» From agricultural-based foods to processed, non-nutritive snack foods and drinks.
Tragically, the junk food is taking away children’s appetites for healthful food, and causing a pandemic of early childhood tooth decay, starting in the first year of life.
Tooth decay can have severe consequences such as:
» Mouth pain
» Inability to eat
» Inability to play
» Inability to concentrate in school