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Watch out, zombie mouth!


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Kids and zombies fought tooth decay together at the ‘Stop Zombie Mouth’ campaign kick-off, held in October in New York City. (DTI/Photo Fred Michmershuizen, DTA)
Fred Michmershuizen, DTA

By Fred Michmershuizen, DTA

Thu. 1 November 2012


NEW YORK, N.Y., USA: If the American Dental Association and PopCap Games had their way, kids would have more games and less candy for Halloween. The ADA and the creators of the popular Plants Vs. Zombies video game teamed up for “Stop Zombie Mouth” — a campaign that was unveiled to members of the media in late October at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not in Times Square.

In the campaign, which continued through Halloween, PopCap gave away millions of copies of Plants vs. Zombies, more than a million free packs of game-inspired trading cards, and other themed items with tips to keep teeth healthy — all brought to life by the beloved “fundead” icons as well as new characters created just for the campaign.

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“This is a unique opportunity for the ADA to educate the public about how to improve oral health,” said Dr. Jonathan Shenkin, ADA spokesperson on pediatric dentistry. “We have seen a huge increase in the amount of sugar consumed in the United States, especially during Halloween, but if we can reduce the frequency of sugar consumption we can reduce the amount of tooth decay.”

Part of this campaign is to educate children to brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Just this single message alone, Shenkin said, could have profound impact, especially in populations with high rates of tooth decay.

As part of the campaign, parents and other adults who host trick-or-treating children on Halloween were able to obtain free game coupons, redeemable for the full edition of Plants vs. Zombies, via participating ADA member dentists nationwide or by downloading them from The coupons, trading cards and other themed materials were designed to replace traditional candy giveaways for Halloween trick-or-treaters and, more importantly, to raise awareness of the importance of kids’ oral health.

“We at PopCap have been interested in the potential for video games to provide benefits beyond entertainment for many years,” said John Vechey, PopCap co-founder and franchise studio director at PopCap. “We’re passionate about the very important cause behind the ‘Stop Zombie Mouth’ campaign and proud to be highlighting yet another positive effect that games can have on society.”

“If everybody in the family buys into the basic health information tools that we are providing, we can actually have a profound impact on changing not just childhood behavior, but the entire family’s behavior,” said Shenkin, who punctuated his presentation by showing showed slides of kids in his practice with actually “Zombie mouth.” He then invited the kids and zombies in attendance to come forward to demonstrate proper brushing technique.


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