We were once again very proud supporters of National Smile Month 2020. This national campaign organised by the Oral Health Foundation ran from 18th May to 18th June with dental health professionals and advocates all over the UK getting involved to help raise awareness of the importance of good oral health – especially important with access to dentistry severely restricted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Our Brighter Smiles team (whose usual visits to Cornish schools, nurseries and family hubs were paused due to Covid-19) went above and beyond in creating a series of four virtual oral health education sessions for children aged 4-6. Each short film focused on a different topic: the Functions of the Teeth; Toothbrushing; Tooth Decay; and Diet and Your Teeth. You can watch them all here and our thanks to Fuel Communications for helping us create these – not only do they look great but they’ve been really popular resources amongst those communities we’d normally visit in person, for education in the school or home environment. We’ve had similarly great engagement in the top tips and ‘did you know’ facts that we’ve shared throughout the month on Twitter, and used the opportunity to publicly thank our valued Brighter Smiles supporters without whom we couldn’t make such a sustainable difference to the oral health of Cornish communities.
Brighter Smiles also donated thousands of toothbrushes, tubes of toothpaste and oral health education packs to The Trussell Trust and other Foodbanks across Cornwall so that we could continue helping families look after their oral health at this time. We were also generously given a box of toothbrushes by dental products distributor J&S Davis Ltd which found a home with St. Petroc’s Society. Thank you to Brighter Smiles lead dental nurse Jo for driving all over the county delivering these donations – when she wasn’t filming oral health education videos or working as a dental nurse in one of our Urgent Dental Care Hubs!
In May we marked the first anniversary of seeing patients in our purpose-designed, accessible dental centre at Harleigh Road in Bodmin and looked back at our successful Community Open Day and Smile (Get) Together events held there. We’re very proud to have been shortlisted in the national Dental Awards for best National Smile Month Campaign 2019 – fingers crossed for Friday’s announcement of the winners!
Since Easter Saturday 2020, our Harleigh Road Dental Centre has been operating as one of the first Urgent Dental Care Hubs in Cornwall (along with our Brighter Dental practice on the Isles of Scilly and our West Country Dental Care clinic in Truro). From these Hubs our dedicated team are providing emergency treatment to those in greatest need at a time when the ongoing pandemic had forced other dental practices to close – tough work as you can read here. We’ve added more information to our Patient Information Zone to help individuals and families look after their oral health at home and will continue to build this valuable resource whilst working towards a phased resumption of our general dentistry services, with the safety of our patients and teams remaining our top priority. We have of course added the Oral Health Foundation’s excellent Patient Experience poster, which clearly explains the differences that patients can expect when they attend their next dental appointment.
To celebrate both National Smile Month and the upcoming reopening of our Brighter Dental practices we held a prize draw for one of our registered patients to win an electric toothbrush to help keep their smile bright and healthy! Their prize is now winging its way to them along with a crocheted teddy bear created by one of our talented dental nurses (This Bird Crochets on Facebook), who has been crocheting bears and rainbows, fundraising for NHS Charities Together and our current charity of the year Penhaligon’s Friends, as chosen by our colleagues.
We also began the search for our new Island Dentist, a vacancy only available due to the planned retirement of our current dentist on the Isles of Scilly. This vacancy remains open until 24th June and has generated lots of interest.
We’ve loved playing our part and seeing how, despite current challenges, the UK dental community has come together online to celebrate National Smile Month and keep oral health uppermost in our minds – from sharing videos, infographics and photos to running competitions and challenges, and supporting #Dentistry24. Take a look at our photo gallery below to see how we got creative with making smiles and compiling poems about smiles (for which we even won a prize)!