We have made a significant investment in our Brighter Smiles campaign to improve the oral health of children up and down the country.

We have appointed Vikki Bendle as our first Brighter Smiles campaign manager following the launch of initiative in March – on World Oral Health Day.

Vikki, has over 29 years experience in a wide range of roles across the civil service and has recently completed a secondment to the Prince’s Responsible Business network working with private, public and charitable sector. She will play a central role in the campaign to reverse the continuing trend of avoidable tooth extractions from children – a serious public health issue which currently costs the NHS in England over £35 million per annum, a cost that has increased by 65% over the last 5 years.

Brighter Smiles, which will further develop in Cornwall ahead of an anticipated national roll out, says tooth decay is 100% preventable if children, parents and guardians have access to oral health education and fluoride applications at an early stage. The campaign, which is already backed by Cornwall Council and brand communications agency Fuel, is seeking more commercial sponsors who, for as little as £1500 per school, can significantly improve local health outcomes for young children and reduce pressure on the NHS.

Vikki said: “I’m excited to be joining an award-winning team. As a parent I am staggered that tooth extraction is the No. 1 reason in Cornwall why 5-9 year olds are admitted to hospital. It was the commitment of Paul and the team, and the fact that this is preventable, that attracted me to the campaign. When I first got to know about Brighter Smiles I knew it was a concept that is inspiring and that makes sense. The opportunity to stop unnecessary suffering, at the same time as reducing school absences and the long-term cost to the NHS, has to be a good thing for Cornwall.”

Managing director Paul Critchley, continued: “Public money is in short supply and already channeled to the most deprived areas in the county. Our aim is to complement the work we are doing in these areas and grow an innovative solution to encourage greater links between local schools and local dentists funded by commercial sponsors. We are delighted to appoint somebody of Vikki’s calibre and connections to drive the campaign forward.”

Working with Cornwall Council, the Brighter Smiles campaign has already identified and provided oral health education and tooth brushing clubs at 30 nurseries and primary schools with the most need.  This has resulted in very positive feedback from pupils, parents and carers and the schools themselves.

However, there is much more work to be done with over 271 publicly funded schools in Cornwall.

If you would like to find out more about how your business could support your local school please contact Vikki on 07956 712317 or vikki.bendle@brightersmiles.co.uk

Media enquiries to Martyn King at Fuel on 07815 322304 or martyn@fuelcommunications.com

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