As a leading national charity working to improve oral health, in 2015 we will continue to try and achieve our targets, improving people's lives by reducing the harm caused by oral diseases - many of which are entirely preventable.
Over the coming year, we will continue to work closely with Government, the media, the dental and wider health profession and of course, members of the public, to ensure better oral health for all.
Our 12 pledges for 2015 will outline who we are and what our great charity stands for. These values and messages will help us move one step closer to achieving our crucial goals.
1. We will be a key source of oral health information
We are the UK's leading oral health charity, and each and every year we receive hundreds of media enquiries on every imaginable topic. Our website is visited by more than two and a half million people, and our patient leaflet range now has 52 titles, providing impartial and independent information for the dental profession and is a popular choice with patients, with over one million being distributed each year. We will continue to be at the forefront of oral health information with the launch of our multi-lingual website.
2. We will continue to prioritise and improve children's oral health
Children's oral health in the UK is generally very good but fundamental problems still exist. Children not being taken to the dentist, not being provided with toothbrushes and fluoride toothpaste and having imbalanced diets loaded with sugar. As a result, we have a third of 12-year-olds with some kind of cavity while around one in seven eight-year-olds have signs of decay in permanent teeth. Delivering positive oral health messages to children in local communities is something we feel very passionately about. We will continue to build relationships to ensure children learn the right oral health messages at an early stage.
3. We will provide the very best support and advice
Our Dental Helpline provides members of the public with free, impartial, expert advice on a range of oral health problems. Since its formation a little over 16 years ago, it has taken in excess of an astounding 350,000 calls, offering reassurance and support to worried members of the public.
The Dental Helpline is a truly charitable service and the crucial work by our dedicated team of qualified dental nurses and oral health educators continue to make a difference to the public and professionals alike, proving an invaluable resource in educating the public on a range of dental and oral health related matters.
4.We will work with policy-makers to enforce important changes
As a charity looking to make a positive impact in the public arena, lobbying and influencing policy on all matters pertaining to oral health remains essential for us to help shape the direction and decision-making of certain issues, policies or laws.
Our work with key stakeholders helps us to influence plain packaging, the HPV vaccination for boys, improving oral health in Europe and the continued fight to take action on sugar.
5. We will help facilitate thousands of dedicated oral health events
National Smile Month and Mouth Cancer Action Month are our two month-long campaigns designed to maximise public involvement in bettering their oral health. Last year more than 3,000 events took place with the sole purpose of education.
Everything from handing out leaflets to open days and health buses can have a substantial impact on society. That is why this year we will help to facilitate even more events. Through our educational resources and a library of downloadable resources, together we will help to improve oral health.
6. We will continue to campaign for mouth cancer action
Mouth Cancer Action Month has become an influential springboard in educating the public about mouth cancer, the signs and symptoms and the associated risk factors.
When the campaign ends, the real work begins. Our goal is to get everyone thinking about their mouths, about taking action and raising awareness, particularly among those groups who are most at risk. We want people to look out for ulcers which do not heal within three weeks, red and white patches in the mouth, and unusual lumps or swellings while encouraging them to regularly visit a dentist to ensure they're checked for signs of mouth cancer.
7. We will be an active force promoting oral health in the media agenda
With increasing inequalities, multiculturalism and divisions within society, we realise that getting our messages out to different audiences is crucial. That's why our press team is in constant communication with newspapers and broadcasters.
During 2014, we had an extraordinary 1,853 press clips featured in national, regional, online news and magazines. We had major national coverage promoting oral health on average once a week while we also took part in 250 radio interviews.
Remarkably, our messages that aim to educate and inform people about their oral health, had a readership in excess of 460 million!
8. We will increase oral health awareness in the workplace
In the last five years the Foundation estimates two million people have taken time off work due to poor oral health at an estimated cost of £32bn to the economy. It is our goal to provide support and education to employers and employees alike to help cut down on preventable dental disease that leads to time off.
9. We will be a leading independent supplier of oral health materials to the health community
Dental practice products continue to be an integral part of our work, and with more than 30 years' experience of advising members of the public how to improve their oral health, we have a wealth of knowledge on the dentist-patient communication process and offer constant support to our customers.
10. We will cherish our supporters and volunteers
Over the last year we have been able to provide more information and support for children, the elderly and vulnerable, people with special needs and those living in deprivation around the UK. As inequalities in oral health continue to grow, and with incidences of mouth cancer on the rise, our role as a leader in oral health education and preventative action becomes ever more crucial. The connection created between us and our supporters is precious, helping us to champion oral health in the public domain. That's why we truly value all the generosity and hard work of our supporters.
11. We will invest heavily in improving the nation's oral health
Our income means we are able to invest a considerable amount of money on charitable activities to increase oral health awareness and education, particularly among vulnerable groups. It is key we access these areas for us to improve the nation's oral health, and our continued investment will ensure we reach the people who need it most.
12. We will be an inclusive organisation that welcomes everybody
At its heart, the British Dental Health Foundation is an inclusive organisation that provides opportunities for everyone interested in oral health to participate. Our supporters continue to reflect the diverse range of people and organisations involved, including dentists, oral health professionals, surgeries, companies, huge multinationals and members of the general public. Patronage from our corporate supporters remains strong, as we continue to prove a popular choice for organisations who want to publicly support the cause of improving oral health.