Lessons in a Lunch Box program registration open

ADA, The Children’s Oral Health Institute collaborate at SmileCon


The ADA and The Children’s Oral Health Institute announced that registration for the winter 2024 cycle of the Lessons in a Lunch Box oral health education program is open at

The national program was developed 16 years ago in Baltimore, Maryland, to help educate children and their families about the importance of good oral health and meaningful dietary behaviors to help prevent tooth decay and other maladies. The lunch boxes also have materials that encourage children to begin thinking about careers in dentistry.

The Children’s Oral Health Institute CEO Winifred Booker, D.D.S., said that she created the program to help empower children to take responsibility for their own dental hygiene and snacking behaviors.

“As a pediatric dentist, I was frustrated with what seemed to be the lack of attentiveness by parents and educators to reinforce the oral health prevention messaging we provide to our patients at the biannual check-up appointments,” Dr. Booker said.

The ADA Board of Trustees, through an adopted resolution, provided funds to add to the support the lunch box initiative has already received from across the profession. ADA member dentists can register on a first-come, first-serve basis and request the lunch boxes that get distributed at presentations tosecond- and third- grade students.

Since its inception, more than 65,000 lunch boxes have been distributed in elementary schools across the nation through the initiative. The program’s footprint expanded to reach all 50 states in 2017. At SmileCon 2023 in Orlando, Florida, both at a booth and through outreach activities in the community, this exposure was further increased through the ADA.

On Oct. 4, volunteers presented Lessons in a Lunch Box to more than 50 children at the St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Orlando.

Those present included Dr. Booker, ADA President Linda Edgar, D.D.S., and Mark Bronson, D.D.S, then-ADA vice president.

The one-hour presentation included videos about flossing and brushing and oral hygiene demonstrations using oversized teaching models.

During Dr. Edgar’s installation speech at the House of Delegates in Orlando later that week, she showcased the Lessons in a Lunch Box initiative.

“We have an epidemic of tooth decay in our children,” said Dr. Edgar. “I would like to help the youngest among us, one lunch box at a time, by improving oral health literacy through the Lessons in a Lunch Box initiative. Helping the youngest among us through Lessons in a Lunch Box is what so many oral health professionals have helped The Children's Oral Health Institute achieve in 16 years. “

 The funding initiated by Dr. Edgar goes toward the second round of 10,000 lunch boxes to be distributed during the 2024 Sweet 16 celebration of the program, which is currently underway. Lessons in a Lunch Box presentations can be hosted around the country until supplies are exhausted.

The Children’s Oral Health Institute charges a handling fee of $295 to ship lunch boxes directly to elementary schools anywhere in the country.  This fee can be covered by a sponsoring dental school, dental society or private practice or any philanthropic interest.

Dentists and other stakeholders — hygienists, nurses, physicians — can register more than one elementary school.

For those interested in sponsoring an elementary school, go to The Children’s Oral Health Institute website to take a one-hour CE course and learn how to sign up.

How to participate:

1.  Register an elementary school for the program by going to The Children’s Oral Health Institute website, The registration button is on the home page at the very top.

2.  The first thing to complete is the permission memo that must be signed by the elementary school principal. 

3.  Once the registration is complete, and the date of the Lessons in a Lunch Box program presentation at the school has been scheduled, the lunch boxes are shipped directly to the school.

4.  The dentist who registers the program is the coordinator and must take a free one-hour continuing education course to understand how to present the program and deliver the content. The course, “Improving Oral Health Literacy: Teaching Primary School Students through the Lessons in a Lunch Box Program,” is offered at Type 456 into the search engine.

5.  An important rule of thumb is for every 10 children, there should be at least one volunteer to help them navigate their newly acquired lunchbox and carrot case.


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