Tooth Wizard battles PlaqueMan to entertain, educate kids

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-116966730520013.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of‘, ‘“Teeth on the Go” will be presented at 1 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 30, at Spring Creek Elementary School, 5222 Spring Creek Rd. in Rockford.‘);

LISLE, Ill.—The Tooth Wizard and his nemesis, PlaqueMan, will entertain nearly 30,000 elementary school students across Illinois in early 2007—and at the same time teach the children how to take care of their teeth and the importance of good oral health.

The two costumed characters are stars of an educational oral health program called “Teeth on the Go,” which is being presented in the state for the first time. Delta Dental of Illinois’ Tooth Wizard and the antagonist, PlaqueMan, are visiting students in kindergarten through third grade in 85 elementary schools in Cook, Kane, Lake, McLean, Peoria, Sangamon, St. Clair and Winnebago counties from January until early April. February is Children’s Dental Health Month, which makes the performances especially timely.

Delta Dental of Illinois, a not-for-profit dental service corporation that has provided dental benefits to Illinois-based companies for 39 years, is offering the program to Illinois schools free of charge. Delta Dental of Illinois adopted the program from Delta Dental of Missouri, which has had tremendous success with it.

“We’re pleased to introduce this program in Illinois, which will educate children across the state on the importance of good oral health,” explains Dr. Robert E. Dennison, president and chief executive officer of DDIL. “Our mission includes improving the oral health of the communities we serve. Promoting oral health education not only helps further our mission, but also gives us a chance to get an early start by focusing on children’s smiles in an effort to inspire a lifetime of good oral health habits.”

“Teeth on the Go” will be presented at 1 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 30, at Spring Creek Elementary School, 5222 Spring Creek Rd. in Rockford. Tooth Wizard and PlaqueMan deliver a highly entertaining program, educating children about how to get rid of what the Tooth Wizard refers to as that “icky, sticky, slimy, grimy, sort of yellowy, greeny gunk” knownas plaque that causes cavities and damages teeth and gums. The program boosts the enthusiasm of young children for taking care of their teeth and for their overall oral health. The characters not only explain proper brushing techniques, how to floss, good and bad foods for the teeth and why it is important to visit the dentist at least twice a year, but also demonstrate how to do these things using an oversized tooth model and toothbrush, as well as student volunteers.

According to Oral Health America: A Report of the Surgeon General, tooth decay is the single most chronic childhood disease, five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever. Though professional care is necessary for maintaining oral health, 25 percent of poor children have not seen a dentist before entering kindergarten. Additionally, uninsured children are 2.5 times less likely than insured children to receive dental care. Delta Dental of Illinois recognizes many families do not have the means to visit the dentist as frequently as necessary. Through its community benefit efforts, Delta Dental of Illinois is supporting programs that will work to increase access to care. The Teeth on the Go Program provides an important component in improving oral health as well.

“Preventive care is the most effective way to improve oral health. Through this program, we’re teaching the importance of oral health and preventive techniques, which we hope ultimately will lead to improved oral health,” added Dennison.

The oral health experience extends beyond the stage performance. Every child who attends the program receives a “dental treat” bag containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and an oral health brochure explaining the importance of good oral health. Each school receives a “Teeth on the Go” curriculum kit for educators to use to help reinforce good oral health habits with their students. The kit includes visual and audio educational tools, including a 12-minute video, an audiocassette tape, books, and a three-times-larger-than-life-sized mouth model and toothbrush to demonstrate proper brushing techniques.

For more information on the Teeth on the Go program, contact Ann Marie Walker at (630) 724-4039.

From the Jan. 24-30, 2007, issue

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