BSDHT First Smiles campaign visits local schools and nurseries to spread the word about good oral health
The First Smiles campaign by the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT) provides an opportunity for professionals across the country to reach out to young people in their communities. 28 dental hygienists and dental therapists got involved this year, visiting local schools and nurseries to spread the word on why good oral health is so important. Among the activities arranged were demonstrations on how to brush, role-playing a visit to the dentist, plus quizzes and games designed to highlight ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods in terms of the amount of hidden sugars.
There are still young people in the UK that don’t have their own toothbrush or have never visited the dentist. The First Smiles campaign is designed to help change this, encouraging dental professionals to help educate children and their parents/guardians by providing the support and guidance they need to instil good habits from the very beginning.
Here’s what some of those who took part had to say:
Anita Hirani, Queensbury Dental Surgery
It all went really well and we really enjoyed our visit to the nursery. We tried to make it as enjoyable and interactive as possible with role-play. The children were able to come up one-by-one to have a go at brushing the teeth on the model and they absolutely loved it. They were also pleased to get a toothbrush to take home!
One session I did was to a lovely group of 2- and 3-year-old children, teaching them how to brush their teeth and gums. I took along Dan the Dinosaur, masks, mirrors, gloves and mouth mirrors – the children loved helping to clean Dan’s dirty teeth. I also wanted them to see what visiting the dentist is like, so everyone had a chance to try on gloves and masks, and hold a mouth mirror to look at their teeth and those of their friends.
The feedback I had from parents was lovely and some of the children that hadn’t been to the dentist before were asking their parents to take them – in fact the children were really enthusiastic and very motivated. Hopefully by doing these sessions with our younger generation, the messages we are always promoting and encouraging are getting out there. This is a fantastic opportunity for our dental profession to get out there and keep our kids smiling. Thank you to Colgate, Dental Directory and CHANGE4LIFE for all the toothbrushes, toothpastes and information leaflets.
We carry out clinics/teaching sessions weekly in an area of severe deprivation and lack of education and care. As you can imagine, the samples went down a storm! For some of the children involved, this was their first and only toothbrush and they had individual attention in how to use them. All in all it went really well.
The First Smiles day was super and we all had a great time. The kids dressed up in gloves and masks, we talked about looking after our teeth, visiting the dentist and sugars in food. I will definitely do it again. I think it is such a good idea and really important. As a society, I think the more we can educate parents and teachers too, the better – after all, it’s not the 5-year-olds who pack their lunchboxes.