National oral health initiative returns to bring smiles to thousands more children

The British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT) are thrilled to announce the return of First Smiles on Friday 17 June 2016; the initiative is aiming to bring oral health education to young children in their own classroom.

First Smiles encourages BSDHT members to enter schools and nurseries across the UK to deliver fun and accessible lessons to children regarding the importance of good oral health, and to teach them the necessary habits needed to maintain a healthy smile for life.

President of the BSDHT, Michaela ONeill, says: “First Smiles launched last year to huge success, our amazing BSDHT members really helped to make a significant difference to children’s oral health by engaging with thousands of children in classrooms across the country.

“Our members, as well as schools and nurseries across the UK, have really embraced this potentially life changing initiative; we are really proud of what we have achieved so far but there is still so much more that we think we can achieve.

“This year we want the programme to be bigger and better; we want your help to ensure important oral health messages reach many more children.

“The headlines about children’s oral health continue to make depressing reading, a recent Government survey revealed that nearly a third (31 per cent) of five-year-olds and half (46 per cent) of eight-year-olds have visible signs of dental decay.

“It is because of statistics like this that we developed the First Smiles initiative, we really want to mobilise BSDHT members, the people on the frontline of dentistry, to use their unique skills and knowledge to make a difference to children’s oral health, so please help us and get involved.”

This year the BSDHT are delighted to announce that Oral B have generously provided toothbrush and toothpaste samples to help First Smiles reach its important objectives.

The campaign is open only to dental hygienists, dental hygienist-therapists and students who are BSDHT members.

Dental hygienist and spokesperson for oral health charity the Oral Health Foundation, Mhari Coxon, is excited about what the initiative will contribute to improving the oral health of children in schools nationwide.

Ms Coxon said: “This excellent initiative really helps to build a positive relationship between dental practices, nurseries and schools. It enables everyone to dedicate more classroom time to teach children about the importance of good oral health and hygiene.

First Smiles can ensure early years and primary school children everywhere receive the right information, delivered in an easy-to-understand and enjoyable way, which can later be adopted at home by parents.

“Tooth decay is an entirely preventable disease and by instilling the importance of a healthy mouth at a young age, it is not only creating good oral health habits for these children today, but the benefits will most likely continue far into their future.”

Whether it’s their first tooth or their first visit to the dentist, a child’s early experiences of oral health can impact on the rest of their lives. BSDHT members who wish to take part and make a difference can find out more about First Smiles at

To find out more about the benefits of membership with the BSDHT please visit

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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