The Impact of National Smile Month

Red House SchoolNational Smile Month is a campaign to help improve oral health in local communities. Our team at the Oral Health Foundation uses National Smile Month as a chance to work closely with oral health educators, health professionals, schools and workplaces, to increase their important work of delivering oral health education, especially in disadvantaged communities and regions of known poor oral health.

Since its creation almost 40 years ago, National Smile Month has helped facilitate thousands of events and projects, and continues to act as the spearhead campaign for providing organised grassroots activities such as fun days, talks, sponsored events, roadshows, displays, open sessions and competitions – all which have the ultimate goal of engaging people in the importance of oral health.

In the last two years alone, more than 2,000 oral health events have been organised throughout the UK, under the banner of National Smile Month. Here are just a few of the inspiring National Smile Month activities that show the campaign really does make a difference:

Nottingham: Oral health education materials and guidance was delivered for primary school teachers and pupils in key stage one. This activity promoted access to local dental services for children in the city’s 73 primary schools and reached around 3,000 five and six year olds.

Buckinghamshire: A series of sessions were held to support elderly and vulnerable in-patients in five Buckinghamshire hospitals whose oral health was affected by their medical conditions such as strokes and head injuries.

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Leeds: A community project was formed to help to educate 600 children and their families about good oral health. The series of events were supported by volunteers and continues to provide charitable work with 60 children’s centres across the city.

Great Ormond Street: An exhibition was held for the staff and children at Great Ormond Street Hospital. The dental team from Q Clinic delivered dietary advice, tooth brushing techniques and palliative care to sick children.

Oxford: The team at NHS Oxford Foundation Trust ran a National Smile Month Roadshow, visiting key towns within the county, offering free oral health checks, advice and freebies. One of their stops included a large children’s centre in Banbury.

Scotland: In 2014, Action for Sick Children Scotland visited children with special educational needs in Lanarkshire, aiming to reduce the fears and anxieties of children through play, and used National Smile Month to build confidence and self-esteem.

Carlisle: Barnardos partnered National Smile Month with their very own ‘Smile 4 Life’ campaign. They encouraged families to join their Smile Board to track their own oral health journeys and encourage improvement. They also ran two smiling play sessions for children aged 0-5 in partnership with a local dental practice.

Harrogate: A series of events were held to establish oral health provisions for older people in care homes, and to assist the staff of four care homes to provide daily good oral care for their residents.

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London: A project was setup to target parents of children under the age of one to help reduce dental decay and increase the use of dental services. Training sessions in 60 children centres took place, in addition to information and resources being provided for 1,000 families.

South Tyneside: A series of week-long Dental Health Roadshows for over a thousand children, carers, parents, guardians and teachers in special needs schools were held across Gateshead and Sunderland.

North Tees and Hartlepool: A partnership project which will provide 59 primary schools with teaching resources for key stage two pupils to help integrate oral health into the school curriculum. Links between local schools and nearby dental practices was also supported.