Delta Dental of Illinois Foundations’ Land of Smiles® Program Tackles Childhood Tooth Decay in Illinois
NAPERVILLE, Ill. (Sept. 18, 2023) – Tooth decay remains the leading chronic disease affecting our children, and the statistics in Illinois are particularly alarming. Research shows that 22% of Illinois third graders have untreated tooth decay.1 In a steadfast effort to address and curb this growing concern, the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation has introduced the Land of Smiles program, an engaging initiative that is reaching 24,674 pre-kindergarten through third-grade students in 119 schools this fall.
This free, dynamic educational initiative aims to empower pre-kindergarten through third grade children with essential oral health habits. The program has been designed not just to educate, but also to entertain. Characters like Captain Super Grin, Terri Tooth Fairy, Toothpick, and their playful nemesis, Caz Cavity, captivate young audiences while delivering crucial messages about oral hygiene, nutrition, and regular dental check-ups.
Reaching more than 30,000 children annually, the Land of Smiles program is a testament to Delta Dental of Illinois' commitment and drive to improve the oral health landscape of the state’s younger generation.
Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation partners with school administrators and nurses to bring the free Land of Smiles program to Illinois elementary schools each spring and fall. The program has reached 524,078 students at 983 Illinois elementary schools over the past 13 years. This fall, it is reaching 24,674 pre-kindergarten through third-grade students in 119 Illinois schools. Every student at a Land of Smiles performance receives a kit with a free toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss, along with bilingual oral health tips outlining how students should care for their teeth.
Learn more about the Foundation and its Land of Smiles program at https://www.landofsmilesil.org/.
1Illinois Department of Public Health Healthy Smiles Healthy Growth Survey, 2018-2019.
About Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation
The Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation was formed in March 2008 by Delta Dental of Illinois, a not-for-profit dental service corporation with a mission to improve the oral health of the communities it serves. Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation is the 501(c)(3) charitable arm of Delta Dental of Illinois and works to support and improve the oral health of people in Illinois. In the past decade, combined efforts of Delta Dental of Illinois and Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation have provided more than $30 million to programs and organizations in Illinois that improve the oral health of the residents of Illinois.