November 22, 2002

Tippy Tooth visits San Diego’s Chavez Elementary to fight nation’s leading childhood illness

Health Net Dental and Vision’s ambassador of proper dental care – Tippy Tooth – made a visit to San Diego’s Chavez Elementary School on Tuesday, Nov. 12, sharing his message of the importance of taking care of your teeth to 160 first and second-graders.

Tippy is a 3-foot-tall molar who joined Dr. Ivan Berger, Health Net’s Chief Dental Officer as part of the company’s P.E.A.K. (Prevention Education Against Kavities) program that encourages children to take care of their teeth and combat the biggest childhood illness in the country – childhood dental decay.

Dr. Berger provided a bilingual child-friendly presentation to the Chavez students introducing the kids to his cartoon friends Tippy Tooth, Sally-Scrub-a-Dub, Mr. Toothpaste and Dr. Tooth Fixer. Through the story Dr. Berger narrates, the youngsters discover how to combat the “sugar bugs” and avoid cavities. They also learn to trust the dentist as a friend who can help protect their teeth. The P.E.A.K. presentation will educate children on the importance of taking care of their teeth. Proper brushing, flossing and eating a healthy diet are important to healthy teeth — and healthy children.

At the end, the children received a Tippy Tooth coloring book that reinforces their lessons and a new toothbrush. The demonstration and instructions are given in both English and Spanish and the children receive bilingual brochures so their parents can learn more about preventive dental care and the ways in which such steps can protect a child’s overall health.

P.E.A.K. targets schools in areas that have high rates of dental referrals. Dr. Berger was motivated to develop the program following a recent U.S. Surgeon General’s Office report showing tooth decay as the single most common chronic childhood illness, nationally, accounting for more than 50 million lost school hours each years to dental-related illness. The problem is particularly acute in California, where 70 percent of residents lack access to fluoridated water and where there is twice as much untreated tooth decay among children as there is nationwide.

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