Health program gives Gurnee students reason to smile

There were plenty of smiles Monday at River Trail School in Gurnee, where students got a special visit from Tooth Wizard and PlaqueMan during a program on oral health.

Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation sponsored the visit as part of its Land of Smiles, which offers free and interactive children's educational programs for students in prekindergarten through third grade.

The effort has reached about 416,000 students at 861 Illinois elementary schools during the past 12 years.

The characters also talked about the importance of choosing healthy foods and beverages and visiting a dentist for regular cleanings.

According to Delta, tooth decay can get in the way of students' attendance, concentration and performance at school.

Nearly 40% of Illinois elementary schoolchildren miss school because of cavities or other oral health problems.

  The Tooth Wizard, left, tells Prairie Trail School students how to have good oral hygiene and how to defeat PlaqueMan, right, during a Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation program Monday in Gurnee. Paul Valade/
  Prairie Trail School kindergarten through third-grade students watch a program Monday with the Tooth Wizard and PlaqueMan in Gurnee. Paul Valade/
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