Most dentists have heard of National Smile Month by now. The campaign, which is scheduled to run from May 19th to June 19th, will see a range of activities take place at practices across the UK to promote a message of oral health. However, this is not merely a dental marketing campaign; it will play a key role in educating people.
Simon Howell, of the oral health charity the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF), has emphasised the key role that National Smile Month will play in the education of people of all ages in the importance of good oral health. This is especially true for those living in disadvantaged areas, which typically have a high percentage of poor oral health.
“Despite the many improvements in oral health over the last 30 years, inequalities continue to burden certain groups of the UK,” said Mr Howell. “Those of a lower socio-economic status, the elderly, people on lower incomes or with educational barriers, even different ethnicities, are more likely to suffer from chronic ill-health.
“Health inequalities are almost entirely preventable – National Smile Month gives us a timely reminder that we can make a difference in addressing this unjust imbalance,” he added. This highlights the importance of campaigns like this, as they can be excellent ways of getting a message out to those that would otherwise miss out.
National Smile Month has been ongoing for almost 40 years, since its first iteration as “Smille 77” back in 1977. At this point, one in every three Britons had none of their natural teeth left due in part to poor oral hygiene, and the campaign was seen as a way of preventing this.
Since this point, the campaign has grown hugely, spreading its three messages: brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, cut down on sugary food and drink, and visit your dentist regularly. Over the last two years, over 1,200 oral health events have been organised due to National Smile Month.
“At the BDHF, we are determined to improve the UK’s oral health. National Smile Month is our, and your, chance to promote positive oral health messages to all kinds of people,” said Mr Howell.