10,000 Toothbrushes Raise Smiles across London during Oral Health Month

14 May 2019

Whittington Health NHS Trust has launched a drive to get young people brushing their teeth at the start of National Smile Month thanks to a donation of over 10,000 toothbrush kits.

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Unfortunately, compared to other areas of England, London has one of the highest levels of tooth decay in young children (25.7% compared to 23.3%). In recent years, there has also been a rise in the number of young children - particularly 3 to 5 year olds - having to attend hospital to have rotten teeth removed under general anaesthetic.

Poor dental health impacts not just on the child’s health but also their wellbeing and that of their family. Children who have toothache or who need treatment may have pain, infections and difficulties with eating, sleeping and socialising. They may have to be absent from school and parents may also have to take time off work to take their children to a dentist or to hospital.

Whittington Health NHS Trust provides oral health programmes to promote good dental health and reduce health inequalities across ten London boroughs. This work includes running supervised brushing sessions for children and parents in schools and community centres, fluoride varnish programmes and training of key staff involved in early years care such as health visitors.

The donation of 10,000 toothbrushes and toothpaste packs has been made by the London Freemasons Charity and will be given away by Whittington Health staff throughout National Smile Month which runs from 13 May to 13 June. Together, with thousands of individuals and organisations, the Trust will be using the month to highlight three key messages, all of which go a long way in helping us develop and maintain a healthy mouth. They are:

  • Brush your 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, as often as they recommend.

They are part of a total donation of 40,000 kits which the charity will distribute across the capital.

Speaking at the launch of Whittington’s celebrations for Oral Health Month, Dr Andrew Read, Clinical Director Dental Services at Whittington Health, said: “Tooth decay is largely preventable yet it remains a serious problem. Too many children are suffering unnecessary dental problems which prevent them from eating, sleeping and learning properly. We work hard throughout the year to educate parents and children about the importance of good oral health and the simple steps that can keep young mouths healthy, but we can now supercharge those efforts this month with this generous donation.”

Sir Michael Snyder, Metropolitan Grand Master, commented: “Following the success of last year’s donation of 40,000 specially designed children’s toothbrushes, I am delighted that London Freemasons will be supporting The Oral Health Foundation’s ‘National Smile Month Campaign’ by distributing another 40,000 children’s toothbrushes each with a tube of toothpaste to hospitals and Emergency Departments across all of London’s boroughs including 10,000 to Whittington Health NHS Trust. Child tooth decay a major public health issue in the capital, and we are delighted to assist in this battle to improve the health of London’s children.”

Claire Robertson, Consultant in Dental Public Health, London, said:  ‘I hope that this welcome initiative will help support children form good dental habits from a young age. To prevent tooth decay in children Public Health England recommends brushing twice a day using fluoride toothpaste, reducing sugary foods and drinks, and visiting the dentist regularly’.

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