Land of Smiles

Posted on February 12, 2013 in In the Community

Land of Smiles is back in Illinois this year educating Illinois pre-kindergarteners through third-graders on the importance of taking care of their teeth.

Land of Smiles is an educational program offered free to Illinois elementary schools by Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation

During the program, Tooth Wizard will battle his arch-enemy PlaqueMan for the health of kids' smiles. Students will learn the proper techniques for taking care of their oral health and why good oral health is so important.

Although tooth decay is nearly 100% preventable, it is the most common chronic disease affecting children in Illinois. According to the 2008-2009 Healthy Smile Healthy Growth assessment conducted by the Illinois Department of Public Health, 53% of Illinois third graders have experienced dental cavities. Among those children, 29% have untreated cavities and 5% have cavities that need urgent dental treatment.

The Foundation's mission is to improve the health of the people of Illinois, especially children. Land of Smiles is a fun way to get kids excited about dental care and helps further our mission to improve the oral health of people in Illinois.

As part of the educational program, students will help Tooth Wizard teach the proper way to brush and floss on an oversized mouth with a giant toothbrush. While PlaqueMan tries to disrupt the kids' healthy habits, Tooth Wizard will educate them about tooth-friendly foods and the importance of visiting the dentist twice a year.

The Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation give kids who attend the program a goody bag with oral health supplies, and each participating school will receive a curriculum kit to help reinforce good oral health habits with its students.

We are excited about the opportunity to help educate Illinois children about these good oral health habits. But it's extremely important that parents and caregivers are also establishing and reinforcing these same habits at home.

This year, nearly 30,000 pre-kindergarten through third-grade students in more than 100 Illinois elementary schools will enjoy the “Land of Smiles” program. The program has reached nearly 180,000 students at more than 600 Illinois schools over the past six years.

Lora Vitek, Director, Philanthropy and Community Relations