In 1976, the British Dental Health Foundation established May 20-June as National Smile Month, dedicated to improving the oral health landscape of the United Kingdom. The ideas behind National Smile month have spread, helping raise awareness and improve oral health both in the UK and abroad. Though technically National Smile Month is only official in the United Kingdom, the lessons learned from its observance can help us here in Utah as well.
The focus of the month is to help adults and children improve their oral health by:
- Brushing teeth for two minutes at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Reducing consumption of sugary drinks and food.
- Visiting a dentist regularly.
In the 37 years since National Smile Month was decreed, the impact on the UK has been extensive. Studies have shown a severe drop in the percentage of the population that has no natural teeth and in the amount of visible dental decay. The biggest impact on the decrease in visible dental decay has been with children. In 1973, studies showed that less than 10% of UK children were free of visible dental decay. By 2009 that number had increased to 66.6%.
With the positive impact of the National Smile Month campaign, other countries have taken notice. In 2009, the United States partnered with the UK during National Smile Month for the very first time. Under the slogan of “Brush for Health,” the two countries worked together to reach an estimated 180,000,000 readers and viewers.
Above all, the National Smile Month campaign hopes to instill good, strong dental habits by making it fun to take care of teeth and gums. This is a great opportunity to teach your children the importance of strong oral hygiene habits and how they can lead a lifetime of good oral health. Consider partnering with your dentist or your local school to help spread the word – or, in the words of National Smile Month, to pass along “smilies” – and help improve the oral health of people around your community.
To learn more, visit the National Smile Month website.