GURNEE – The Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation Land of Smiles program visited 225 pre-kindergartners through third grade students Sept. 19 at River Trail Elementary School.
Land of Smiles is a free educational initiative that aims to empower children with essential oral health habits. The program has been designed not just to educate but to entertain. 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 checkups.
Tooth decay remains the leading chronic disease affecting children and statistics in Illinois are particularly alarming. Research shows 22% of Illinois third graders have untreated tooth decay. In an effort to address and curb the 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.
Land of Smiles is continuing its tour throughout Lake County. Here are upcoming performances:
• Forrestal Elementary School on Nov. 1
• Whittier Elementary School on Nov. 7
• Rondout Elementary School on Nov. 9
• Greenwood Elementary School on Nov. 9
• Andrew Cooke Magnet Elementary School on Nov. 16
• Washington Elementary School on Nov. 16.
To learn more about the Land of Smiles program, download K-3 oral health educational resources or request a school performance, visit https://www.landofsmilesil.org/.