Get on board the oral health bus

A team promoting oral health had a novel way of delivering their message – aboard a bus!

To mark the midway point in this year’s National Smile Month campaign, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust Oral Health Bus rolled into the market town of Banbury.

Having already visited Didcot and Abingdon, the Oral Health Promotion team were on hand to educate inquisitive members of the public on all things dental.

To celebrate the ‘Smile Factor’ theme, lead organisers Heather Duignan and Simon Mastrantone were joined by fellow oral health promoters Jo Daley and Natalie Bass, along with members of the Banbury clinical dental team, Andy Barlow and Wendy Marshall.

Their aim is to raise awareness of the importance of a healthy mouth by offering free dental checks on the specially designed health bus.

Having already seen more than 200 patients – and conducted 60 oral health checks in the previous two days – Banbury would go on to be the biggest success of the tour.

Simon explained: ‘We did 35 check ups on the day, more than at any other venue, and across the four days we engaged with 377 adults and performed 117 oral health checks.

‘Banbury was the third date on our tour of Oxfordshire, and overall our health bus has proved to be a great success. It just goes to show how seriously some people take their oral health, particularly in an area that statistically has a poor track record of looking after their teeth.

‘We also had representatives from local NHS dentists who were taking on new patients to talk to members of the general public about the benefits of their practice, as the number of practices in Banbury accepting new NHS patients is quite large.

‘Outside the bus, our National Smile Month display offered the perfect opportunity for the general public to find out more about the campaign, how to look after their oral health as well as a selection of free samples and goody-bags to keep the children happy.’

Fellow organiser Heather said: ‘The areas we visited have some of the highest rates of tooth decay and gum disease in the county, and in addition to visiting our needy areas we are keen to offer support countywide.

‘The idea of an oral health bus isn’t exclusive to our team and, if it meant oral health would improve, then we’d gladly see it rolling out across the country.’

Chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, paid tribute to the NHS Oxfordshire team and their oral health campaign.

Dr Carter said: ‘We are delighted that the NHS Oxfordshire Oral Health Promotion team has joined the many dental practices, schools, health professionals and community groups promoting good oral healthcare under the umbrella of the Smile Factor during the National Smile Month campaign.

‘A good oral healthcare routine can help guard against all sorts of oral and general health conditions from bad breath and decay to gum disease, which has been linked to a number of more serious health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and strokes.

‘By promoting good oral health care and the importance of preventive care in a fun and imaginative way, we hope to see more people following our three key messages of brushing for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, cutting down on how often you eat and drink sugary foods and drinks and visiting your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend as a way of getting and keeping their own smile factor.’

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