As part of National Smile Month (May 13 to June 13, 2024), NHS Mid and South Essex is launching a new campaign, ' Bright smiles are healthy smiles’.

The campaign aims to empower parents and carers of young children to adopt good oral health habits in their children to ensure a lifetime of healthy smiles.

Sophia Morris, a dentist and clinical lead for NHS Mid and South Essex, said, “Tooth decay leading to early teeth extraction in children is entirely preventable for all children no matter where they live. Our goal is to equip more families and children with the tools and knowledge to minimise tooth decay and to help reduce the number of children needing teeth extracted.

“The campaign is particularly important in Mid and South Essex where our data shows that we have some areas of high need. We are seeing more and more children experiencing significant levels of tooth decay, with children aged 10 years and under having teeth removed under general anaesthetic.

“Children need their baby teeth to fall out naturally, so the adult teeth underneath can develop properly and come through without any issues. It is so important that we set children up with good toothbrushing habits so they can have a childhood free from dental pain and a lifetime of good oral health to reduce their chances of developing more serious illness.”

The focus of the campaign is to set children up for a lifetime of healthy habits to give children the best start by:

  • Brushing children’s teeth for two minutes twice a day, last thing at night and one other time with fluoride toothpaste, remembering to spit out toothpaste and not rinse, as rinsing washes away the fluoride protection.
  • Cutting down on sugary foods and drinks.
  • Making sure children have visited the dentist by the age of one or when their first tooth comes through and then visit the dentist regularly.

The new children’s oral health campaign will target families and carers across Mid and South Essex through adverts on buses, online, and social media.

Kids will also be able to take part, as there is a free toothbrushing chart, so they can track their toothbrushing progress every day.

Among several programs to improve child oral health, Mid and South Essex will increase the number of supervised toothbrushing programmes in early years settings during 2024. They will focus on helping families in areas of high need by giving them knowledge about improving their children’s oral health. Families in high-need areas will also be able to access free toothbrushing packs.