Text reads Brush twice a day for two minutes. An animated cartoon tooth with a smiley face is on the left side of the picture

As part of the National Smile Month (13 May-13 June 2024), NHS Mid and South Essex is launching a new campaign called ‘Bright smiles are healthy smiles!’

The campaign aims to empower parents and carers of young children to adopt good oral health habits in their children to ensure a lifetime of healthy smiles.

Dr Sophia Morris, Dentist and clinical lead for NHS Mid and South Essex said: “Tooth decay leading to early teeth extraction in children is entirely preventable for all children no matter where they live. Our goal is to equip more families and children with the tools and knowledge to minimise tooth decay and to help reduce the number of children needing teeth extracted.

“The campaign is particularly important in mid and south Essex where our data shows that we have some areas of high need.* We are seeing more and more children experiencing significant levels of tooth decay with children aged 10 years and under having teeth removed under general anaesthetic.

“Children need their baby teeth to fall out naturally, so the adult teeth underneath can develop properly and come through without any issues. It is so important that we set children up with good toothbrushing habits so they can have a childhood free from dental pain and a lifetime of good oral health to reduce their chances of developing more serious illness.”

The main focus of the campaign is to set children up for a lifetime of healthy habits to give children the best start by:

  • Brushing children’s teeth for two minutes twice a day last thing at night and one other time during the day with a fluoride toothpaste, remembering to spit out toothpaste and not rinse, as rinsing washes away the fluoride protection.
  • Cutting down on sugary foods and drinks.
  • Making sure children have visited the dentist by the age of one or when their first tooth comes through and then visit the dentist regularly.

The new children’s oral health campaign will be targeting families and carers across mid and south Essex through adverts in buses, online and through their social media. Kids will also be able to take part, as there is a FREE toothbrushing chart so they can track their toothbrushing progress everyday. There is also a QR code that can be scanned, or they access further information and resources on the NHS Mid and South Essex website to make toothbrushing fun.

Amongst a number of programs to improve child oral health, mid and south Essex will increase the number of supervised toothbrushing programmes in early years settings in the coming months. They will focus on helping families in areas of high need through giving them the knowledge around improving their children’s oral health. They will also be able to access free toothbrushing packs for families that live in high need areas.

Dental care for children under the NHS is free, and you can find a local dentist by visiting Find a dentist and search for a practice in your area that is accepting NHS patients.  If you cannot see something immediately do keep coming back as the availability can change daily. If you are having a problem finding a dentist, please call. NHS England's Customer Contact Centre on 0300 311 2233.

If you have a dental emergency call the NHS 111 service and they can refer you to a dental practice for an emergency appointment after an initial assessment.

Published: Thursday, 16th May 2024