Smile Month proves it's a dental practice essential
 

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Smile Month proves it's a dental practice essential

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Smile Month proves it's a dental practice essential

 

Smile Month proves it's a dental practice essential

A practice in Derbyshire is thinking up some fresh new ideas for the 2010 National Smile Month campaign, after their success in previous years.

This year's National Smile Month slogan, ‘Teeth4Life', highlights the importance of looking after teeth and maintaining them for a lifetime, also stressing that a healthy diet can improve the quality of your life.

The campaign is running from 16 May until 16 June, and encourages dentists, dental hygienists and therapists and other dental professionals to get involved and spread good oral health messages to the public.

It will also be an excellent way for practices to encourage patients to maintain regular dental visits.

Last year, Alexandra Dental Care ran a ‘design a badge' competition for their child patients, although according to practice manager Michelle Cadd, some of the adults couldn't resist having a go, too! The team created an entry form with a large circle on which the children could draw their designs.

‘We made sure the entry forms were on our display board in the waiting room, so the kids were able to design their badge ideas while waiting for their appointment,' said Michelle. The two oral health educators – who work closely with the children – picked three winners from around 100 entries.

First prize went to 13-year-old Samuel Mastropietro who won an iPod, an electric toothbrush and even got to see his design turned into a badge (below).

The badges were then sold at the practice with all the proceeds going to Bank House, a local mental health charity. Michelle said: ‘We like the idea of the proceeds going to a local charity so we'll definitely be doing something similar this year.'

Make the message last
Alexandra Dental Care has always been involved with Smile Month, usually through open days. However, the competition enabled the practice to get the essential message of the campaign across to patients over a longer period of time.

‘Open days are great but they only last one day. We were able to prolong the message over four weeks helping to get the essence of Smile Month across to patients better. The key messages on the entry form reached more people than one open day would, and the fact that we ran a competition attracted attention from the local press, so we were able to reach more people,' said

Michelle. ‘We announced details of the winners on our winter newsletter, so the Smile Month messages lasted even longer in our practice. Although we try to prolong the event, I do feel that the concept could be extended for longer than a month.'

The practice also held a special winner's afternoon and took photos of the day, making the whole event personal to the patients and staff alike.

'It's a nice change to do something different. Everyone gets involved with brainstorming ideas and it really brings the team together. We try to give the younger nurses lots of the responsibility organising the events, it's nice for them to have a project to work on.'

Ideas
The team at Alexandra Dental Care really liked the idea of raising money for a local charity, so the ideas for this year are aimed at enabling them to do that again.

One of the ideas they have is to sell helium balloons to patients. Each one will be tagged with a name and message, and whichever one is found the furthest away will be deemed the winner.

‘One of the girls on the team suggested the idea,' says Michelle, ‘She took part in a similar event at school and hers was returned by a guard at Buckingham Palace, so it really does work!' The team is also considering running a ‘guess the name of the bear' competition, and, in the past, has encouraged patients to take part in guessing which baby photo belongs to which member of staff.

These ideas are all easy to carry out, don't require much expense and, best of all, can be used to really promote the message of Smile Month in a fun and memorable way. One of the slightly more ambitious ideas they had was a sponsored cycle ride.

‘We're all aware of the work that Bridge2Aid is doing, so we were going to work out how many miles away Tanzania is from our practice and all take it in turns to use a cycle machine in the waiting room. None of us really fancied getting hot and sweaty though, so we might be tempted to do something different!'

Get involved!

One of the great things about the ideas the team at Alexandra Dental Care comes up with is that they don't cost the earth.

Open days are a good option for practices getting involved in Smile Month for the first time, but they can be costly in terms of shutting the surgery. Michelle recommends holding them in the evening as practices will reach more people this way and won't lose out on a day's work. These events work especially well for dental phobic patients as it gives them a chance to meet the dentists outside of a surgical environment and they can look around the practice at their own pace.

One of Alexandra Dental Care's regular patients used to be so scared of the dentist he had to cross the road rather than walking past a dental surgery. Attending their National Smile Month open day resulted in him being able to look around the practice without any fear, and now he is able to attend regular check-ups.

Michelle said: ‘There is not enough in the press about the high mortality rates associated with oral cancer, it's just not highlighted as much as other issues.

Dentistry gets a bit neglected by the media. So many people don't go to the dentist, because they are scared, don't have the time or think it's going to be expensive. If we can reach just one person through the Smile Month campaign, then it's a success in my eyes.'

Michelle advises everyone to play a part in National Smile Month.

‘Definitely get involved, it doesn't cost much. I've done this job for 14 years and I have seen it make a difference. It's great for staff morale, too.'


To order National Smile Month resources, go online at www.nationalsmilemonth.org or contact the British Dental Health Foundation on 0870 770 4000.


 Posted on : Fri 23rd - Apr - 2010

 

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