Monday, January 26, 2009
"Land of Smiles" at Charles C. Clippard Elementary school- (from left to right) Panda, played by Cassie Kerth, the Tooth Wizard, played by John Schultz, and PlaqueMan, played by Jamie Kerth. January 20th.

ST. LOUIS, MO, January 23, 2009 … Almost 1500 children from Alma Schrader, Charles C. Clippard, Orchard and South elementary schools in Cape Girardeau County were visited by Delta Dental’s Tooth Wizard, his friendly sidekick Panda, and their arch-enemy PlaqueMan as part of the "Land of Smiles" statewide tour. These young students were among the 73,000 Missouri children the tour will reach before the end of May, spreading its engaging message that encourages kids to adopt good oral health and overall health habits.

The "Land of Smiles" program, formerly known as "Teeth on the Go," was recently renamed by Delta Dental because the show’s content has further evolved to address the importance of overall health habits like eating right, exercising daily and making healthy choices that lead to healthy lives.

The highly entertaining theatrical "Land of Smiles" performance succeeds at captivating its audience and getting children excited about brushing and flossing properly, paying attention to what foods are good and bad for their teeth and their good health, visiting the characters’ "best friend" the dentist, and learning how a healthy smile and healthy body go hand in hand. All the while, PlaqueMan is busy working to "plaque up the place" by shedding fragments of his "icky, sticky, slimy, grimy" self all over healthy teeth and doing his best to disrupt healthy habits. The show’s interactive elements afford several students the chance to join the characters on stage and the program wraps up with a question and answer segment that allows the children to showcase all that they have learned. Each child receives a Healthy Smiles "Certoothicate" and a free goodie bag that includes a toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, coloring sheet and a "Brush 2x a Day" mirror decal.

Each school is also given a curriculum kit featuring an educational DVD, lesson plans and other resources designed to expand upon the information taught in the live program. The DVD was produced with the Tooth Wizard, Panda and PlaqueMan characters in a magical setting and uses digitally-enhanced special effects. The entire curriculum kit was developed by Delta Dental of Missouri in consultation with teachers and dentists and satisfies multiple state curriculum frameworks. The "Land of Smiles" DVD can be viewed at

"It is estimated that children lose over 52 million school hours annually due to dental-related disease," commented Steve Gaal, President and CEO of Delta Dental of Missouri. "Research also indicates that attitude and lifestyle are the greatest influencers on oral health and overall health, more so than genetics, environment and access to care. ‘Land of Smiles’ was developed to promote and reinforce the basics in a way that draws attention to the issue, educates and genuinely inspires children to make changes. The program has proven its popularity and that it works. We look forward to another successful tour this year."

"Land of Smiles" will visit schools in nearly every county in the state of Missouri, plus 100 Illinois and 15 South Carolina schools this year. Delta Dental is committed to reaching children of all social and economic backgrounds and puts particular emphasis on reaching children who live in rural communities and those who come from low income families. The program, in its entirety, is provided to schools free of charge.

Since its 2002 inception, "Land of Smiles" has reached almost 500,000 Missouri children alone. The program has been awarded the 2005 Marketing Excellence Award from the St. Louis, Mo., chapter of the American Marketing Association; the Gold Communications Award from Delta Dental Plans Association; a 2008 Bronze Telly; and FOCUS St. Louis’ "What’s Right with the Region!" award. "Land of Smiles" was also published as a best practice in PRNEWS’ 2006 Corporate Social Responsibility Guide and named as a finalist for the 2008 American Health Insurance Plans Foundation (AHIP) Community Leadership Awards.

To learn more about Delta Dental’s "Land of Smiles" program, or to have a school added to the waiting list for the 2010 tour, contact Katie Chatfield at 1-800-392-1167, extension 2776, or visit

Delta Dental of Missouri is the leader in dental benefits in Missouri, serving more than 1.2 million members working in more than 1,400 client companies, and is a member of Delta Dental Plans Association, the oldest and largest dental benefits provider in the U.S., serving over 51 million Americans (one in four families with dental benefits) and 93,000 client companies.

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