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Goodbye, Zombies!

Times Square press event, satellite media tour cap off Stop Zombie Mouth campaign

November 05, 2012

By Karen Fox, ADA News staff

New York—The Stop Zombie Mouth campaign drew to a close last month with a Halloween-themed press event that attracted coverage from national publications, morning TV shows and social media sites, and the release of a survey on kids’ attitudes about Halloween.

Diagnosis? Zombie mouth. A youngster practices brushing techniques on the zombie at the Oct. 24 press event in New York. Photo by Bernadette Marciniak

Designed to boost awareness of oral health while offering a fun alternative to candy on Halloween, for the past two months Stop Zombie Mouth has offered trading cards with free downloads of the video game Plants vs. Zombies.

The press event took place Oct. 24 at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum in Times Square and a satellite media tour followed Oct. 25 with ADA Consumer Advisor Jonathan Shenkin conducting TV and radio interviews with national and local media. Dr. Shenkin shared with reporters the results of a new survey regarding kids’ views and perceptions of Halloween. Naturally, they enjoy celebrating it; but there is evidence they don’t always require candy.

Payne vs. Zombie: Dr. Brian Payne has a chairside chat with the zombie greeting session-goers in the ADA Welcome Center Oct. 18 during the Annual Session. Photo by EZ Event Photography
In the survey of U.S. kids age 5 to 13, about 95 percent say they participate in trick-or-treating, and 65 percent consider Halloween the best holiday of the year. Two-thirds agreed they eat too much candy around Halloween; 89 percent say they would still like the holiday if it were less about candy; and 93 percent would prefer a video game instead of candy for a treat.

“Children themselves are asking us as adults to help curb sugary snacks,” said Dr. Shenkin, a pediatric dentist and chair of the Council on Communications.

“The Stop Zombie Mouth campaign is an excellent way to bring together an alternative treat for Halloween with an opportunity to increase awareness among parents and children about the benefits that practicing good oral hygiene can have on overall health,” he added. “Learning and practicing good oral hygiene habits now will pay dividends later in life.”

To celebrate the events in New York, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., declared Oct. 24 “Stop Zombie Mouth Day,” and students from the Columbia University School of Dental Medicine showed kids how to properly brush their teeth along with the two-minute video at

After 1 million packs of trading cards; 20,000 Stop Zombie Mouth kits (4,000 distributed at Annual Session last month) and an untold number of media impressions, tweets and game downloads, the zombies have left the building.

Teachers & students: Above, children color photos and learn about oral health in New York Oct. 24.

The zombie poses with (from left) Garth Chouteau of PopCap Games; and Columbia dental students Jiwon Lee (current speaker of the house for the American Student Dental Association), Austin Carr and Briana Ovbude.

Gamer: A child at the Ripleys Believe It Or Not museum tries his hand at Plants vs. Zombies. Photos by Bernadette Marciniak