Students at Maple Grade School received a visit recently from Tooth Wizard and PlaqueMan as part of Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation’s Land of Smiles program.
Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation works to improve oral health and reduce tooth decay (or cavities) among Illinois children through its Land of Smiles program. With the help of Tooth Wizard and PlaqueMan, this fun educational program shows kids the correct way to brush, floss and use fluoride rinse. The program also teaches the importance of choosing healthy foods and drinks, visiting the dentist regularly and having sealants applied.
“Over the past 13 years, Land of Smiles has visited 878 elementary schools in Illinois, helping students have better oral health,” said Lora Vitek, executive director for Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation. “Learning about the basics of brushing, flossing and using a fluoride rinse at an early age can help prevent cavities and establish the foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles.”
Nearly 40 percent of Illinois elementary school children miss school because of cavities or other oral health problems. Tooth decay can get in the way of students’ attendance, concentration and performance.
Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation brings the free Land of Smiles program to Illinois elementary schools each spring and fall. The program has had a measurable impact on Illinois children. For example, surveys given to children before and after the performance showed that only 56% of second- and third-grade students knew that plaque is bad for teeth before the show, compared to 97% after the show.
“Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation works to support and improve the oral health of people in Illinois, with a specific focus on children,” Vitek said. “We’re seeing such positive results among students who participate in the Land of Smiles program. Working together with local schools, we are making a difference in preventing tooth decay, one of the most common chronic diseases affecting children.”
Children who participate in Land of Smiles receive a kit with a free toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and a booklet packed with oral health tips. For those interested in requesting a Land of Smiles appearance at their school, visit landofsmilesil.org.
This year, the Land of Smiles program will reach more than 39,000 pre-kindergarten through third-grade students at almost 200 Illinois elementary schools. In the past 13 years, the program has reached about 416,000 students at 878 Illinois schools.