A group of dental hygienists and therapists are calling on people to change their appearance using hair dye and Instagram filters and share their new look across social media to raise money for the Oral Health Foundation.

#SaveOurSmiles is an initiative to raise awareness of the importance of heathy smiles.

It is also looking to make the public aware of the value of what the dental profession does and to get them to back the call for government aid amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Campaigner Christina Chatfield, who is owner of the Dental Health Spa in Brighton, said: 'It’s easy enough to change your hair colour time and time again, but changes to your teeth and gums are permanent. You only get one set of adult teeth after all.

'Across the UK, patients have been left high and dry mid-treatment, with limited access to dental treatment for pain. As a result, many have been attempting DIY dentistry at home, and those who do successfully make it to an emergency hub only have extractions as an option. It is estimated 6.4 million people have missed out on essential dental care in the last 10 weeks. That is 6.4 million people who have missed out on oral cancer screenings, as well as those suffering from gum disease who are missing out on treatment. Gum disease is linked to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and dementia. Consequently, we are looking at a huge dental health care crisis, with enormous implications on the under-funded NHS,'

She added: 'On 28 May, it was announced that dental practices in England could open on 8 June, providing they have adequate PPE. Most of the profession were informed of this at the same time as the public on BBC News, giving practices limited time to implement the safety changes that were also announced on the same day. Many practices are struggling to get hold of the PPE required and now can’t afford the inflated costs after 10 weeks with zero income, with many not qualifying for the government grant and rate relief schemes.

'Dental disease is one of the few diseases that is in our total control. Our aim is to change public perception of the dental industry, for it to be valued. We can do DIY hair colours but we can't really do DIY dentistry.'

The filter is viewable on our Instagram will change the appearance of your teeth to a rotten-toothed smile. As part of the initiative, those that can afford it can donate to the Oral Health Foundation.

Christina added; 'We are hoping that with enough traction and interaction, the government will have to come to our aid. Patient care is at the heart of everything we do, and we want to be here for our patients when we are able to open again.'

Dental practices in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are still not looking at a return to dentistry until 2021.

To get involved, go to saveoursmilesuk@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/saveoursmilesuk Website:https://www.saveoursmiles.co.uk
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/saveoursmilesuk