Delta Dental of Missouri’s Land of Smiles dental education program is on the road this fall, taking the crusade for healthy teeth to 23,000 youngsters at more than 100 schools across the state in the coming weeks. The cast of dynamic superhero characters made its most recent stop in West Plains for a performance at Glenwood Elementary School, teaching good dental health habits to 131 students in kindergarten through third grade.
The Land of Smiles experience follows superhero Captain Super Grin as he defeats his nemesis, Caz Cavity, with help from his sidekicks Terri Tooth Fairy and Toothpick. Students learn the importance of brushing teeth twice a day, flossing, using mouthwash, eating healthy foods and visiting the dentist regularly.
The program includes an oral health curriculum that adheres to National Health Education Standards, as well as standards for Missouri, said officials, and it contains engaging, age-appropriate materials to make learning about dental health entertaining for kids and includes activity sheets, also available in Spanish.
Delta Dental of Missouri also offers free “smile bags” to schools for students who participate in the program. Each bag includes a toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss to help students practice the good oral health habits they learn. Newly-created short videos, which recap important oral health tips that the program teaches children in schools, are now available for caregivers and can be found at www.landofsmilesmo.org/parent-caregiver-information.
“Our lively Land of Smiles show makes learning about dental health truly fun for kids, but most importantly, it’s memorable,” said Stacy Harris, supervisor of community outreach at Delta Dental of Missouri. “Pre- and post-show testing demonstrates that, on average, students show a nearly 30% increase in their good oral health behavior and knowledge after seeing a performance. That’s the positive outcome we all want.”
Since its inception in the fall of 2002, said officials, the Delta Dental of Missouri’s Land of Smiles program has taught more than 1.1 million children how to take care of their growing smiles through more than 5,800 onsite performances at schools in 113 Missouri counties, and through its online version. At least 25% of schools receiving the program have more than 80% of students enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program. The Land of Smiles experience is provided free of charge to schools, courtesy of Delta Dental of Missouri.
Local teachers, school nurses and principals are invited to email email@example.com to request an in-person, live show for this school year, or visit www.LandofSmilesMO.org to gain access to the online program to find a date and time that works for their students.