National Smile Month returns this year between 13 May and 13 June. Here is everything you need to know about the charity campaign
Between 13 May and 13 June, National Smile Month is championing the importance of good oral health.
The charity campaign, organised by the Oral Health Foundation, is one of the world’s largest and longest-running, promoting the value of a healthy smile while sharing positive messages around toothbrushing, a healthy diet and visiting the dentist.
National Smile Month is a timely reminder to prioritise oral health and take a look at how we can improve our oral hygiene routines.
Every year, the campaign is supported by a wide range of individuals and groups: from dental practices and schools, to workplaces and government agencies. National Smile Month is a perfect opportunity to come together and remind others about three key oral health messages:
• Brush teeth last thing at night, and on at least one other occasion, with a fluoride toothpaste
• Cut down on how much sugary food and drink you have, and how often you have them
• Visit your dentist regularly, going as often as they recommend.
Happy and healthy
National Smile Month is all about creating healthier and happier lives. For now, as well as for future generations. Since its inception, the focus has always been on improving the oral health of those that struggle to have the opportunity, means or access to dental care and basic dental provisions. The campaign reaches some of the most at-risk and in-need groups, not only in the UK but also around the world.
But the campaign is not just about education and repeating the importance of maintaining a healthy mouth. The reason of its past success and the key to its future success is through having lots of fun, and showcasing the physical and mental healthiness and happiness that comes with every smile.
National Smile Month is upbeat in its outlook, works to promote dentistry in a positive way and looks to engages millions about the advantages of a healthy mouth.
To increase the fun factor, the Oral Health Foundation has introduced three competitions. The winners all receive fantastic prizes, but, more importantly, it is an enjoyable and relaxed route into helping others learn about their oral health.
1. Share a smile
The first competition, Share a smile, is brand new for this year’s campaign and sees the Oral Health Foundation teaming up with Buddies. Share a smile is all about engaging young people about the importance of a healthy mouth. It is the perfect activity for nursery and schoolchildren, schools and teachers, parents and guardians.
Completing the entry is the perfect opportunity to teach young children about the importance oral health and hygiene – and how they can achieve a healthy smile. There are three activities for children to take part in:
• Fill in a colouring sheet (for ages 0-4)
• Write a poem (for ages 5+)
• Draw or paint a poster (for ages 12+).
Lots of prizes are available for individual winners and classes. For all the details and downloadable materials, visit www.dentalhealth.org/shareasmile.
2. Nominate a smile
Nominate a smile gives you the opportunity to give someone special in your life the recognition they deserve. Each week of National Smile Month, the Oral Health Foundation will pick one person to receive a special prize.
Nominating is easy. All you have to do is send the Oral Health Foundation a picture of your nominee, along with a brief description of what makes them so special to you. The only requirement for the picture you send with your nomination is the nominee needs to be smiling. It’s that simple. For more details, head over to www.dentalhealth.org/nominate-a-smile.
The Oral Health Foundation’s third and final competition is #MySmileySelfie. This is arguably the easiest competition to get involved in. All you need is one of the famous Smileys, a camera and an internet connection.
Grab a Smiley, take a photograph and post it to your social media account using #MySmileySelfie. While you post your selfie, make sure you write an oral health message or tip alongside your photo – there are some written on the back of the Smiley.
The Smiley is a great way to take a fun photo, while spreading positive oral health messages at the same time. You can enter by yourself, or as a group – is entirely up to you.
Use the opportunity to get creative with the background or the pose, there’s no restrictions and the more creative the better. At the end of the campaign, the Oral Health Foundation will be picking its top three #MySmileySelfie entries to win four tickets to a local comedy show.
Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, is full of hope when it comes to this year’s National Smile Month campaign.
He said: ‘I am really excited for this year’s campaign and the amount of support we are receiving is truly fantastic. The number of oral health events and activities taking place throughout the UK will have a tremendous impact on how much we understand about the importance of a clean and healthy mouth.
‘The competitions we’re running as part of National Smile Month will allow people of all ages to get enthusiastic about oral health. We’re hoping by the end of National Smile Month more people will feel better informed when it comes to looking after their teeth and mouth. Ultimately, that’s what National Smile Month is all about.’
The future of National Smile Month
National Smile Month has been successfully delivering positive oral health messages for five decades. Yet, its work is far from done. There are many challenges the campaign still needs to address.
Dental access remains an important issue in some areas of the country, especially in parts of the developing world. The amount of added sugar consumed in the UK (and globally) continues to be a growing concern, especially for children.
Finally, twice-daily toothbrushing messages must still be firmly established, water fluoridation needs to be implanted across more areas of the UK, and there needs to be support for an increasingly-aging population.
Over many years, National Smile Month has been an important campaign to champion the benefits of good oral health. The charity initiative has managed to adapt to many social and technological changes, as well as the constantly-evolving health needs of the population.
The Oral Health Foundation is excited for what the future brings and is determined to use National Smile Month as a flagship health campaign that changes people’s lives for the better.