Are you Up to the Challenge? #2: Sugar Swaps

Posted Mar 2021

By Delta Dental of Arkansas

Tagged tooth decay, sugar swaps, cavities, sugary foods and drinks

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Are you Up to the Challenge? #2: Sugar Swaps

sugar swaps banner

We’ve created a 5-part series of new ideas and fun activities for parents, caregivers and educators to teach children good oral health habits and decisions.

Play online or download and print hard copies of each challenge for free use in the home and in the classroom. Boost the excitement by rewarding each milestone with treats big and small.

#2: Sugar Swaps

The Goal

Change children’s snack preferences from sugary foods and snacks to healthier choices that reduce the risk of cavities.  

The Benefit

By teaching children how to make healthier decisions when it comes to sugar—even when an adult isn’t around—you’re helping them avoid cavities and achieve better overall health.

The Challenge

Encourage your children or students to trade something sugary for a healthier choice twice a day. Instruct them track their progress on the chart below.

Examples of Sugar Swaps

Cookies, cakes or candy -> string cheese, fresh fruit, raw veggies, plain yoghurt

Starchy crackers and chips -> nuts

Here are some other examples of how to teach even your youngest learners to develop healthy eating habits.

sugar swap chart

can print or copy the chart to track the sugar swaps. If you don’t have a printer, save the image as a photo on your phone and use your photo mark-up tool to complete the chart.

Teachers may want to send the weekly chart home on a weekly basis to have parents sign off on them. Alternatively, children can keep it in their desks. It may be helpful for kids to check the boxes right after lunch when their food choices are fresh on their minds.

The Rewards

At the end of the week, tally how many times your child or student made sugar swaps. Then reward them based on the total number of times a healthy decision was made. A new toothbrush or fun-flavored toothpaste is a great starter reward. Teachers may want to tally the total number of swaps achieved by the whole class over a certain period and adjust the reward system as needed.

Tips for Grown-ups:

Occasional treats are okay, especially if they don’t contain sugar. Try making these tooth-friendly donuts for your family.

A Sugar Swaps Challenge brochure, with complete instructions, templates of the weekly charts, examples of sugar swaps and more, can be viewed and downloaded for parents/teachers and kids.

Participate in our other challenges:

#1: Say No To Cavities

#3: Protect Your Mouth

#4: Think About Your Drink

#5: Healthy Holidays

And then take our Smile Smarts Quiz!


Check out our video resources:

We’d love to hear from you how you are creating healthy smiles. Email us your success stories and suggestions for additional challenges at

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