The First Smiles initiative from the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT) will be returning this June, bringing oral health education to young children in their own classrooms.

BSDHT members are encouraged to enter schools and nurseries across the UK on Friday 16 June to deliver fun and accessible lessons to children on the importance of good oral health, teaching youngsters the necessary habits needed to maintain a healthy smile for life.

President of the BSDHT, Helen Minnery, commented on the initiative: ‘Over the last two years, First Smiles has encouraged our wonderful members from all across the country reach out to local schools and volunteer their services, and the services of their practice, by visiting local school children to teach them about the importance of good oral health.

‘I am pleased to say that our members, as well as hundreds of schools and nurseries across the UK, have truly embraced this potentially life changing initiative; we are really proud of what we have achieved so far but there is still so much more that we can do.

‘Whether it’s their first tooth or their first visit to the dentist, a child’s early experiences of oral health can impact on the rest of their lives. That’s why it’s so important to teach them about their mouths and introduce them to good habits as soon as possible.

‘This year we are aiming for our programme to be bigger and better than before; to achieve this we need your help to ensure important oral health messages reach many more children.’

On the frontline

First Smiles has been developed by BSDHT in response to the ongoing children’s oral health crisis in the UK, where each year thousands of children have decayed teeth removed under general anaesthetic.

The BSDHT aims to mobilise its members, the people on the frontline in dentistry, to use their skills and knowledge to make a difference to children’s oral health. The initiative is open only to dental hygienists, dental therapists and students who are BSDHT members.

Helen continued: ‘Through First Smiles we want to build a positive ongoing relationship between dental practices, nurseries and schools. This will enable everyone to dedicate more classroom time to teach children about the importance of good oral health and hygiene.

‘First Smiles can ensure early years and primary school children everywhere receive the right information, delivered in an easy-to-understand and enjoyable way, which can later be adopted at home by parents.

‘Tooth decay is an entirely preventable disease and by instilling the importance of a healthy mouth at a young age, it is not only creating good oral health habits for these children today, but the benefits will most likely continue far into their future.’

BSDHT members who wish to take part and make a difference can find out more about First Smiles at www.bsdht.org.uk/FirstSmiles.

To find out more about the benefits of membership with the BSDHT, visit www.bsdht.org.uk/membership.