PR News Wire

Peter Vanderkaay, Michigan's own 2008 and 2004 Olympic gold medal swimmer, today unveiled a dental health education campaign during an event at a Royal Oak Elementary School in conjunction with Children's Dental Health Month, which is designed to raise awareness about the importance of good oral health habits.

"Since I was a child, right around the age of the students I visited with today, I understood the importance of oral health and its link to overall health," said Vanderkaay. "My dad's a dentist, my mom is a dental hygienist and I was taught at an early age about how vital it is to maintain a gold medal smile."

Vanderkaay kicked off the education campaign by distributing a life-sized growth chart and poster, featuring the Olympic swimmer, to a crowd of 400 students at Northwood Elementary in Royal Oak. After passing out the posters to the children, he administered the "Oath to Oral Health" to the packed gymnasium.

"The oath taken by the kids today is all about getting them to recognize the significance of brushing and flossing daily, eating healthy, getting enough exercise and, of course, visiting their dentist regularly," Vanderkaay added. "Following those guidelines has helped to get me to the level I'm at today."

Vanderkaay was accompanied by Dr. Joanne Dawley, a general dentist from Southfield and president of the Michigan Dental Association.

"Today's landmark event is the official kick-off of a statewide public education campaign that we're launching this month in honor of Children's Dental Health Month," said Dawley. "MDA member dentists throughout Michigan will be receiving the poster featuring Peter in the coming weeks. They'll be able to proudly display it in their office in an effort to drive home the importance of oral health to their youngest patients."

Vanderkaay said he hopes that children will take his message and incorporate it into their daily routine, remembering the link between oral health and overall wellness.

"Wellness begins with strong oral health -- that's the bottom line," he emphasized. "It takes a lot to be an Olympic athlete, including a commitment to a healthy lifestyle and solid dental hygiene habits."

Headquartered in Lansing, the Michigan Dental Association has more than 5,600 members in 26 local dental societies and two dental schools. Since its founding in 1856, the MDA has sought to educate the public, enhance its members' ability to provide high quality care and to promote the science and art of dentistry. For more information call (800) 589-2632 or log on to


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