It's Time to Smile as Mercy Ships joins forces with the British Dental Health Foundation for National Smile Month 2015

PRESS RELEASE (Issued on behalf of Mercy Ships UK)


Mercy Ships has been selected as the official charity partner of the British Dental Health Foundation’s ‘National Smile Month’, the UK’s largest and longest-running oral health campaign, which takes place between 18th May and 18th June.

The aim of National Smile Month is to ultimately improve oral health through education and awareness raising. This correspondents closely with the work of Mercy Ships, an international charity which uses a hospital ship, currently docked in Madagascar, to deliver free health care and education to the world’s forgotten poor.

The Mercy Ships dental team know that a smile goes a long way; however, dental services are almost non-existent in many of the countries the charity visits. A major part of Mercy Ships work therefore focuses on oral health, treating around 55 patients a day, in addition to working to improve oral health in every country it visits through dental hygiene education and the training of local personnel.

Judy Polkinhorn, Executive Director of Mercy Ships UK, said: “We are really excited about partnering with the British Dental Health Foundation who have such a good understanding and appreciation of the work that Mercy Ships’ dental team carries out.

“National Smile Month will help to raise awareness for dental health in the UK where we are fortunate enough to have the National Health Service and a world renowned level of health care. By helping to promote National Smile Month in the UK we hope to also raise awareness of the health care situation of others around the world who have limited access to even the most basic dental treatment.”

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, added: “We are delighted a have Mercy Ships join us as National Smile Month Charity Partner. Their dedication and desire to improve the health and quality lives of some of the world’s poorest people is a vision we share and we look forward to working alongside them during National Smile Month.

“National Smile Month has coincided with some of the major oral health improvements in the UK and it’s largely down to building partnerships, such as the one we have with Mercy Ships, which enables us to spread deliver positive messages to even more people about the importance of good dental health.”

With the help and enthusiasm of those who are passionate about health and wellbeing, National Smile Month 2015 will see hundreds of events and activities take place up and down the UK to educate and engage local communities about the importance of a healthy mouth.

Mercy Ships is an international charity which operates the world’s largest civilian hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, providing free healthcare services to those living in developing countries, namely in Africa, where the services of professional medical staff are most needed. The ship is currently docked in Madagascar, which is one of the world’s poorest countries with over 90% living on less than 75p a day.


For further information, please contact Sophie Watson on 020 7710 0020 or Rachel Woodford on 0141 220 6040 at Media House International.

Note to Editors:

Further information available on request


Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class health care services, capacity building and sustainable development to those without access in the developing world. Founded in 1978, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than $1 billion, impacting more than 2.42 million direct beneficiaries.

Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, health care trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort. Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time. For more information click on


National Smile Month (18 May ­ 18 June) is the UK’s biggest annual oral health campaign. Organised by independent charity the British Dental Health Foundation, National Smile Month is supported by some of the UK’s biggest household names such as Wrigley, Oral-B and Invisalign, and hopes to raise awareness of important health issues, making a positive difference to the oral health of millions of people.

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Editors Notes



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The British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT) is a nationally recognised body that represents over 4,000 Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists across the UK and beyond.

BSDHT maintain an on-going dialogue with the General Dental Council (GDC), the Departments of Health and all of the main groups representing dental care professionals, and attends meetings of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry, bringing dental hygiene and therapy to the attention of government ministers and MP’s.

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