Guardians of the Smile

Guardian, Children’s Health Fund Launch Statewide Pennsylvania Oral Health Education and Awareness Initiative

  • Public awareness campaign featuring “Guardians of the Smile” educational materials produced by Scholastic will teach children, parents and educators about the importance of oral health
  • Campaign supports PA’s Oral Health Plan goal to improve access to oral health education

BETHLEHEM, PA (April 8, 2019) The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian) and Children’s Health Fund today announced the launch of a statewide oral health education and public awareness initiative in Pennsylvania as part of their “Guardians of the Smile” national partnership. Supported by a $1 million grant to Children’s Health Fund by Guardian, the partnership provides dental services and education to children, teaches students about the importance of proper oral hygiene and aims to instill good habits from an early age.

Oral health professionals from Guardian and Children’s Health Fund worked with Scholastic to create educational kits, which they will distribute to 5,000 classrooms throughout Pennsylvania. Each kit serves an entire classroom and contains grade-appropriate lessons and activities that teachers can use to help students learn good oral health habits. The materials will reach students in grades K-3 in communities across the state including Central Pennsylvania, Lehigh Valley, Wilkes-Barre, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Video B-Roll

Educational Materials
and School Event

Guardians of the Smile 1080 HD.mp4

Audio Soundbite 1

Dennis Walto, CEO of Children’s Health Fund, explains the Guardians of the Smile partnership

Dennis Sound Clip 1.mp3

Audio Soundbite 2

Dennis Walto, CEO of Children’s Health Fund, explains how parents are their child’s oral health heroes

Dennis Sound Clip 2.mp3

Guardians of the Smile Infographic

“As a leading dental insurance provider in the U.S., Guardian believes that all children should have the benefit of learning how to take care of their teeth,” said Chris Swanker, CEO of Avēsis, a Guardian Company with a significant presence in Pennsylvania. “We’re excited to bring our partnership to Pennsylvanians and help students have big, bright and healthy smiles.”

The launch of “Guardians of the Smile” in Pennsylvania aligns with the state’s 2017-2020 Oral Health Plan issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The plan is a blueprint to coordinate efforts to combat oral disease in the Commonwealth. One of the goals of Pennsylvania’s Oral Health Plan is increasing public education to help prevent oral health disease.

Reaching Children Most in Need

According to a paper published in 2017 by The Journal of Dental Hygiene, low-income populations of all ages experience the lowest access to oral health care. The report also found that children with untreated dental caries experience adverse outcomes impacting their overall health and quality of life extending into adulthood. To help overcome this challenge, the “Guardians of the Smile” initiative in Pennsylvania will have a strong focus on reaching children in underserved areas through distribution to Title I schools.

“Good oral health is not just about avoiding toothaches and cavities,” said Dennis Walto, CEO of Children’s Health Fund. “Studies show that untreated tooth decay can also cause school absences, lower academic performance and poor self-esteem issues. Together with Guardian, we are teaching children and their parents positive oral hygiene habits which will help keep kids smiling and healthy as they grow. Ultimately, we’re striving to advance Pennsylvania’s vision to improve oral health and disease prevention statewide.”

“What Makes You Smile?” Contest in Pennsylvania

The “Guardians of the Smile” program also features a website where teachers and parents can find educational resources and materials. Additionally, the site includes information on the “What Makes You Smile?” art and writing contest, which invites students in classrooms across Pennsylvania to share what brings them happiness and makes them smile. Students, teachers and schools are eligible to win prizes. The prize for the winning school will be an oral health event featuring the Tooth Guardian™ mascot and educational activities with oversized toothbrushes, teeth and floss.

Educators and parents can visit the website and learn more about the “What Makes You Smile” contest at

About The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian®)

Every day, Guardian provides Americans the security they deserve through our insurance and wealth management products and services. Since our founding in 1860, our long-term view has helped our customers prepare for whatever life brings whether starting a family, planning for the future or taking care of employees. Today, we’re a Fortune 250 mutual company and a leading provider of life, disability, dental, and other benefits for individuals, at the workplace and through government sponsored programs. The Guardian community of 9,500 employees and our network of over 2,700 financial representatives is committed to serving with expertise when, where and how our clients need us. Our commitments rest on a strong financial foundation, which at year-end 2018 included $8.5 billion in capital and $1.6 billion in operating income. For more information, please visit or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, NY. Guardian® is a registered trademark of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. 2019-77424 (4/21) Scholastic is a global children’s publishing, education and media company.

About Children’s Health Fund

Children’s Health Fund (CHF) envisions a future where all children in the United States get the care and support they need to thrive. Because healthcare is a critical component of that vision and inequities in access exist, CHF’s mission is to ensure access to high-quality healthcare for America’s most disadvantaged children. CHF also works to reduce health barriers to learning, brings the voice of children to local and national policy debates, and in times of disaster, activates care for those in need.

Since 1987, CHF has been delivering high-quality, comprehensive healthcare to children in some of the most impoverished and underserved communities in the country. From South LA to the Mississippi Delta, from the South Bronx to southern Arizona, every year our national network of 26 programs and fleet of 50 mobile medical clinics provide care to thousands of children living in poverty at more than 400 service sites, including fixed-site clinics, schools, Head Start centers, homeless and domestic violence shelters, and community agencies. Learn more at

Media Contact:

Jason Kirsch, APR
(717) 857–5645

Teacher and parent resources at: