28 April 2015
Look After Your Smile

There is a wealth of evidence that poor oral health, including gum disease, tooth decay and oral cancers, can significantly affect physical and emotional wellbeing. The risk of oral diseases are increased by poor oral hygiene, an unhealthy diet, harmful alcohol use and smoking. Although oral health has improved over the past few decades many people are still directly or indirectly affected by dental diseases.


A Health and Social Care Information Centre national survey (2013) found that:


  • More than a third of 12 year olds and more than a quarter of 15 year olds reported being embarrassed to smile or laugh due to the condition of their teeth
  • 58 per cent of 12 year olds and 45 per cent of 15 year olds reported that their daily life had been affected by problems with their teeth and mouth in the past three months
  • More than a third of the parents of 15 year olds reported that their child’s oral health had impacted on family life in the last six months; 23 per cent of the parents took time off work because of it
  • Only going to the dentist when there is trouble and drinking sugary drinks at least once a day are associated with poor overall oral health

In Somerset a quarter of five year olds and a third of twelve year olds have dental decay and it is the leading cause of admissions to hospital for children aged 5-9 years. This is despite it being almost entirely preventable. Looking after our teeth and mouths is as important as doing regular exercise – by avoiding the risk factors for poor oral health it is possible to impact on a multitude of health conditions including Diabetes, Obesity and Coronary Heart Disease.


Somerset County Council are working with Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to support National Smile Month in 2015.  This campaign, led by the British Dental Foundation, hopes to raise awareness of important health issues, and make a positive difference to the oral health of millions of people throughout the UK


“The campaign will take place between May 18th and June 18th and encourages all dental and health professionals, schools, pharmacies, community groups, colleges and workplaces to join in and help educate, motivate and communicate positive oral health messages to improves the quality of smiles all around the UK”  (from BDF SMILE website)


To register your support or to find out more information about SMILE month visit the website.


In addition, these free resources can be printed and used to support the campaign in your workplace, school or business.


'Fun Facts' poster

Pictures showing the sugar content of a range of food and drinks

General information about oral health

Oral Health quiz

Top tips for looking after your smile 

  1. Visit a dentist regularly, don’t wait until you have a problem
  2. Clean in-between your teeth, this help protect against gum disease. You can use floss or interdental brushes
  3. Eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals and remember your five a day
  4. Avoid lots of little snack attacks on your teeth. Try to have three meals and no more than two snacks.
  5. Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste just before you go to bed and before you have anything to eat or drink at breakfast
  6. Clean all the surfaces of your teeth, this should take at least two minutes
  7. Chew sugar-free gum after a meal. This helps increase saliva and protect against decay
  8. Limit your intake of fruit juices and sugary drinks. Water and milk are much kinder for your teeth
  9. Avoid using sweets as rewards for children. Try stickers or trips to the park instead11 - Spit, don’t rinse when you clean your teeth, this washes away the fluoride from the toothpaste. 
  10. If your teeth are sensitive to cold water you may want to try cleaning your teeth with warm water.