Virgin Care teams do national smile month

Children, young people and adults have gained a better understanding of good oral health thanks to a mix of initiatives run by Virgin Care’s Surrey Community Dental Service throughout May and June that promoted oral health care awareness and information on how to access dental services.

Research shows that there has been an almost 20 per cent (19.6) increase in children being admitted to hospital with tooth decay between 2010 and 2015 but roughly 40% of children still do not visit the dentist each year.

Surrey’s Community Dental Service, a specialist referral service for children and adults who due to a variety of needs have been unable to have those met by a General Dental Practice, delivered targeted health promotion messages at more than 16 different venues including children’s centres, schools and residential care homes across the Guildford and Waverley area.

At Woking Town Centre, young mums learnt about how and when to register their babies with a dentist, and helpful tips on how to sooth their babies teething – teething granules with camomile remain a firm favourite.

Smile Month - 2The service also met with refugee adults who’ve recently moved into the area at St Saviour’s Church in Guildford to teach them the importance of dental health in themselves and their children. The main messages highlighted in venues such as refugee cafés were preventing decay by reducing frequency of sugars; limiting sweet foods and/or drinks to mealtimes only and also the importance of having regular dental check-ups.

While on one ‘Messy Monday’ at Weybridge Children’s Centre more than 20 children, their parents and Virgin Care colleagues got involved in learning about friendly foods for teeth and how to brush correctly by using a giant toothbrush to brush away bubbles on a pair of big teeth to reveal the friendly foods.

All parents and their children said they gained an understanding about the cause and process of dental decay, hidden sugars, the potential barriers to dental health and how to make brushing a positive experience.

A selection of toothpastes, toothbrushes and stickers were given out to everyone in their Smile Month goodie bags.

The roadshows took place during May and June, which coincided with National Smile Month, and was funded by Virgin Care’s Feel the Difference Fund. The fund is a dedicated £100,000 a year that’s made available for projects designed and delivered by local colleagues which improve the experience of using Virgin Care’s services.

Barbara Billington, Oral Health Promotion Lead for Virgin Care in Surrey, said: “Poor oral health isn’t just about problems inside the mouth. A smile is hugely important to our personalities, self-confidence, relationships and success.

“Our general health is also at risk too but by delivering health promotion in a fun way to children and adults at an early stage in their life helps us to interact with them and encourage them to keep teeth healthy to avoid future poor oral health.”

Virgin Care runs Surrey’s Community Dental Service on behalf of the local NHS.

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