By RORYE O’CONNOR
MT. VERNON — —
District 80 Primary Center students learned the essentials to dental hygiene through a larger-than-life presentation by the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation.
The “Land of Smiles” program taught kindergarten through third graders brushing and flossing habits through a skit pitting the “Tooth Wizard,” Nate Ross, against the evil “Plaque Man,” Jake Miller.
The Tooth Wizard demonstrated good brushing technique — at least twice a day with circular motions — on a giant mouth, complete with gums and green plaque fuzzies planted by Plaque Man. He reminded students to brush their tongue as well, with sound effects that the students gleefully emulated.
The dental duo demonstrated good flossing technique by dressing up two students as teeth and using larger-than-life dental floss.
The Tooth Wizard also discussed using mouthwash and visiting the dentist with the students during the skit.
All students received a special bag with dental supplies to take home with them.
Kindergarten student Timberly Rowe said she learned something new Tuesday — that she should always brush her teeth twice a day.
Emily Copple, also a kindergarten student, said she liked the Tooth Wizard.
Jamie Kurth, director of the Land of Smiles program, said the free show travels to about 130 different schools every year to educate young people about the importance of dental hygiene.
“We also provide curriculum kit books to the schools,” he said. “The student bags have a model of the mouth and a 12-inch toothbrush.”
Although tooth decay is nearly 100 percent preventable, it is the most common chronic disease affecting children in Illinois, according to a press release by Delta Dental of Illinois.
“According to the 2008-2009 Healthy Smile Healthy Growth assessment conducted by the Illinois Department of Public Health, 53 percent of Illinois third graders have experienced dental cavities,” information states. “Among those children, 29 percent have untreated cavities and five percent have cavities that need urgent dental treatment.”