South School children learned about two new characters to reinforce a healthy mouth through a special assembly at the school April 11.


South School children learned about two new characters to reinforce a healthy mouth through a special assembly at the school April 11.

Children were submerged into the Land of Smiles, provided by Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation. In the land, the Tooth Wizard and PlaqueMan live to battle each other. To show their work, a giant mouth, including a tongue was on display. The Tooth Wizard explained it was a healthy mouth with no plaque or bad breath.

That was until PlaqueMan made his appearance to the screams and pointing of the children as he added plaque to the mouth.

“I just turned that mouth to an unhealthy mouth. What are you going to do about that?” asked PlaqueMan.

The Tooth Wizard responded by showing the children what they could do: brushing at least two times per day and seeing his best friend, the dentist, twice a year.

He told them they only needed “a tiny little drop” of toothpaste and to brush in small circles around their mouths. He also showed them to stick out their tongue and brush it as well.

“You want to brush your tongue just like you brush your teeth,” the Tooth Wizard said.

He encouraged them to eat healthy as sugary foods leave plaque and then can create big holes.

Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease affecting schoolchildren in Illinois, according to the 2000 Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health in America.

Fifty-three percent of Illinois third-grade students have had a cavity, with 29 percent having untreated cavities and 5 percent need urgent dental care, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Healthy Smile Healthy Growth assessment for 2008-09.

The interactive program gave a few children a chance to brush the large mouth with bigger-than-average toothbrushes. The Tooth Wizard also transformed two children into teeth and showed their classmates how to both floss and use mouthwash. Mouthwash is only for use when an adult is present, he told them.

For their help in defeating PlaqueMan, Tooth Wizard gave them a present. “It’s a bag of tools to defeat PlaqueMan every day.” The little white bag contained a toothbrush, toothpaste and a small box of floss.

South School Principal Mike Bethel said this was the first time to have this specific program come to the school. “It was great,” he said.

In the last five years, the Land of Smiles has visited more than 500 Illinois schools. Each school also receives an oversized mouth model and toothbrush, as well as a DVD, CD and books for teachers to be able to review with the students.