National Smile Month ended on June 17, 2008 in the United States and United Kingdom, marking the first time the campaign has been held simultaneously in both to raise awareness of the important role that oral health can play in overall health. In the U.S., the campaign reached millions of Americans with messages about the importance of brushing, a healthy diet, and regular dental visits, and inspired local events across the country. This year's theme was "Brush for Health!"
"We wish to thank the many industry partners, publications, organizations, insurance companies, dental care providers and oral health advocates who brought National Smile Month to life in the U.S. this year," said Robert Klaus, President and CEO, Oral Health America. "A special thanks to our colleagues at the British Dental Health Foundation, who founded the campaign 32 years ago, and graciously shared it with us. Our experience this year confirmed for us that there are significant opportunities for expanding the program."
For National Smile Month, Oral Health America partnered with Philips Sonicare to commission a public opinion survey to raise awareness about the importance of good oral health. The survey shows that oral health is a top health priority for over two thirds of adults (64 percent), but even more adults (82 percent) are unaware of the role that infectious bacteria can play in tooth decay, or cavities. This means there's still a need to educate the public about oral health, including the disease processes that can cause tooth decay. Additionally, many dental professionals are talking with their patients about the connection between oral health and overall health. Nearly half (49 percent) of adults say their dental professional asked about overall health at their last dental appointment.
Patterson Dental contributed significant support to the national campaign by featuring National Smile Month advertisements in the company's many publications, and by designing, printing and distributing 35,000 copies of a National Smile Month Handbook to dental practices throughout the country.
An outreach effort led by OraPharma, Inc. resulted in official National Smile Month proclamations issued by the governors of Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York and Texas. United Concordia and the Principal Financial Group also created and distributed materials for National Smile Month.
The most extraordinary state-level efforts to support National Smile Month took place in West Virginia, where the campaign prompted outreach, oral health education, and the distribution of over a hundred thousand "Brush for Life!" flyers, letters and posters to new stakeholders including the Mountaineer Food Bank (serving 65-70,000 families each month), West Virginia Council of Churches (3,300 churches), Head Start, Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Children's Home Society of West Virginia, WIC, West Virginia University Extension Service, pharmacies, health departments, primary health centers and medical associations.
"This has been a team effort," said Richard Meckstroth, DDS, Professor and Chair, Dept. of Dental Practice and Rural Health, West Virginia University School of Dentistry, who spearheaded the National Smile Month activities in his state. "We have gained partners that I was not even aware of a couple months ago, who have expressed genuine interest in helping promote the importance of oral health as it relates to overall health. It would not have happened without Oral Health America partnering with the United Kingdom on National Smile Month."
Oral Health America is the nation's premier, independent advocacy organization dedicated to improving oral health for all. More information can be found at www.nationalsmilemonth.org or www.oralhealthamerica.org.
The dates for next year's National Smile Month are May 17 to June 16, 2009.