Connecting the dots on World Oral Health Day

aaff_logo_wohd_v4Celebrated every year on 20 March, World Oral Health Day (WOHD) is an international event that celebrates the benefits of a healthy mouth. It aims to promote worldwide awareness of the issues around oral health, along with the importance of oral hygiene.

Essentially, it is a day for people to have fun – it should be a day full of activities that make us laugh, sing and smile!

Ninety per cent of the world’s population will suffer from oral diseases in their lifetime – many of which can be avoided with increased governmental, health association and society support and funding for prevention, detection and treatment programmes.

This is where WOHD comes in. The day offers the dental and oral health community a platform to take action and help reduce the overall disease burden.

This year’s theme

WOHD 2016 hopes to help everyone to recognise the impact their oral health has on overall physical health and wellbeing. In order to help inspire this change, the overall campaign platform will be: ‘It all starts here. Healthy mouth. Healthy body’. This powerful and engaging messaging is rooted in a global truth of oral health’s wider importance, galvanising the audience to drive a movement for change. The flexible platform gives the opportunity to discuss multiple topics and audiences under one core message.

The best part of this initiative is that everyone can take part! The FDI World Dental Federation (the organiser of WOHD) believes everyone can take some time to promote oral health in their communities and reach a wide audience. But it almost goes without saying that out of everyone, dental teams are most ideally placed to spread that vital message.

Dentist Dr Edoardo Cavallè says: ‘Oral diseases affect 3.9 billion people worldwide, with between 60% and 90% of children globally suffering from tooth decay. Yet there is a lack of understanding of the key role that oral health plays in our overall health; simple steps such as brushing twice daily for two minutes, need to be integrated into all our oral care routines. 

‘World Oral Health Day is a fantastic opportunity for the dental community to make a real difference in the state of oral health across the globe.’

Taking it online

The WOHD website – which can be found here – is the online hub for everything related to the day.

The website provides guidance on what can be done to mark the day, as well as providing flexible tools that can be adapted for use in your own activities and events.

A toolkit, which can be requested via the website, contains key aspects to take into consideration in the areas of branding, media relations, social media and special activities.

There are a number of different activities, both big and small, that you can do to support WOHD in the UK and in your local community. To help inspire your creativity, here are some ideas on how to capture patient and media interest and encourage engagement:

The right tools for the job

Talking to your local and national media is vital if you want your activities to be known around your area and to achieve greater awareness about the importance of oral health and WOHD. Your first stop should therefore be the WOHD 2016 toolkit, which specifically includes advice and tips on this aspect of the event. It’s there to help you maximise the impact of your WOHD activities through media relations and social media activity.

Tweet tweet

The emergence of social media has made it possible for one person to communicate with hundreds or even thousands of other people about different issues, providing an amazing opportunity to spread the word about oral health. So why not do the same? Start out by following @worldentalfed on Twitter, and then make your next step sending your own messages of support! Use the hashtag #WOHD16 with everything you do to be a part of building a global picture of all the activity going on during the day. You can even tweet about the games you’re playing, which leads us neatly on to…

Mad mouths

What better way to capture the imagination of your younger patients than by pointing them somewhere they can have fun… while doing some learning at the same time?

The FDI has put together an app, named ‘Mad Mouths’, to capture the interest of the smartphone generation. In the game, players fight plaque by swiping away food before it’s too late – while avoiding the toothpaste that’s there to help get sparkling clean results. The app is available through the App Store for iPhone and iPad users, and the Google Play Store for Android devices.Get social Head back to the WOHD website to encourage your patients to get involved directly – by uploading their photos and using them to create their very own WOHD poster or meme. This is a great way to get schools and other local organisations involved, too.

Out and about

Why not take your team out on the road and set up your own ‘pop-up’ practice? Many practices will be getting out and about to offer free dental check-ups or dental advice clinics in areas that have a high footfall. This is a great way to engage people in discussion about oral health, meet members of your local community, and show prospective patients the human side to your practice. What’s more, it ties in neatly with all the other promotion you’ll be doing on Twitter and Facebook too; take plenty of pictures and make sure you post them online!

Top tips

Above all else, remember that World Oral Health Day is about educating patients – but it’s a great reason to have fun together as a team while you’re doing it. Having a good cause to get behind just makes it all the more worthwhile. 

Here’s to making this year’s World Oral Health Day a memorable one!

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