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Last week the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation’s Land of Smiles program visited 290 pre-kindergarteners through third grade students at Jerseyville West Elementary School. Land of Smiles is a free, dynamic educational initiative that aims to empower 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.
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.
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.