The countdown is now on for National Smile Month 2017.
For those who are unsure what National Smile Month is, it’s the largest and longest-running UK campaign to promote good oral health. The campaign last for a whole month, so there is still lots of time for you and your practice to get involved. This year, the campaign is running from 15th May to 15th June, so put these dates in your diary.
The purpose of the campaign is to promote, educate and engage local communities by highlighting three key points:
1. Brush your teeth last thing at night and on at least one other occasion with a fluoride toothpaste.
2. Cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks.
3. Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.
These three points are so important. Studies show that having poor oral health isn’t just about having problems inside the mouth. A smile can have a huge impact on a person’s self-confidence, personality and success.
Unfortunately, it seems that many people are not buying new dental products for financial reasons. But a new toothbrush, floss/TePes and fluoride toothpaste don’t have to be expensive. And it’s our job to make sure that people know how to use their toothbrush and floss effectively.
Making parents/grandparents and carers aware of the amount of sugar that is in our everyday products is essential. Research shows that four- to ten-year-olds consume 15% of their daily calorie allowance in sugar alone – so imparting relevant knowledge and skills to other professions is vital.
Finally, it is an unfortunate fact that roughly 40% of children still do not visit the dentist each year. This figure is outrageous, but we need to get the message across to them even if we are not seeing them in practice.
There are many different ways that you can go about raising this awareness:
- You could put a poster, leaflet or display in your practice. This could display how much sugar is in different foods and drinks, or could be about effective tooth-brushing.
- You could ask your local library if they can do a display of any books that they stock which are about visiting the dentist.
- You could visit your local schools, play groups or nurseries to promote good oral hygiene.
- If you are already an oral health educator, you could ask if you can do extra sessions.
- You could have a practice meeting to discuss this issue amongst your team.
For more information about National Smile Month, visit the campaign’s website at: http://www.nationalsmilemonth.org/
This is an amazing website – it has lots of great facts and information about the campaign.
If you enjoy promoting good oral health, why not consider joining our oral health education course? It starts in June and takes nine months to complete, so you will qualify just before the next National Smile Month campaign in 2018. This will help you make a difference to your patients’ oral hygiene and to the people around you.
Emma Leather RDN, PTLLS, TAQA, OHE