Land of Smiles returns to local schools

As more than 2 million Illinois students strive for success both in and out of the classroom this fall, Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation is helping to ensure that tooth decay doesn’t get in the way of them learning and performing at their best. Returning to in-person shows, the newly revamped Land of Smiles program is being produced by The National Theatre for Children.

Captain Super Grin, champion of dental hygiene, and his nemesis Caz Cavity visited seven schools last week as part of Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation’s interactive Land of Smiles program.

  • C A Henning Elementary School | Troy
  • Millstadt Primary Center | Millstadt
  • Saint John The Evangelist School |Carrollton
  • Caseyville Elementary School | Caseyville
  • Glen Carbon Elementary School | Glen Carbon
  • Hamel Elementary School | Hamel
  • Midway Elementary School | Moro

In this fun and educational performance, the two costumed characters — alongside their sidekicks Terri Tooth Fairy and Toothpick — taught kids why teeth are important and how to take care of them, which includes how to correctly brush and floss. They also talked about the importance of choosing healthy foods and drinks and visiting the dentist regularly.

“For more than 12 years, Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation has worked with Illinois schools to provide the Land of Smiles program — an engaging way to educate children on how to take care of their smiles,” said Lora Vitek, Executive Director of Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation. “Establishing good oral health habits begins early, and we can start children off on the right foot by educating them during the elementary school years.”

Tooth decay can get in the way of students’ attendance, concentration and performance at school. About 62% of Illinois parents report that their child currently has or has experienced a dental issue. A checkup with the dentist is required by law for Illinois students in kindergarten, second, sixth and ninth grade. But it’s also key for students to maintain good oral health habits — such as eating healthy foods and limiting sugary drinks — throughout the school year.

“Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation is proud of the difference the Land of Smiles program makes in teaching kids how to take care of their teeth, which helps them to be successful in school,” Vitek said. “Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases affecting children, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a disease that’s largely preventable.”

Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation partners with school administrators and nurses to bring the free Land of Smiles program to Illinois elementary schools each spring and fall. The program has reached 503,629 students at 937 Illinois elementary schools over the past 12 years. This fall, it is reaching 16,141 pre-kindergarten through third-grade students in 84 Illinois schools in-person and virtually.

Children who participate in Land of Smiles receive a kit with a free toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and a booklet packed with oral health tips. For those interested in requesting a Land of Smiles appearance at their school, visit



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