The Oral Health Foundation have announced plans for a new campaign to help people make safer choices when it comes to their dental treatment.

The charity campaign will stress the importance of having dental treatment in dental practices and the benefits of it being carried out by trained and registered professionals.

Safe Smiles is a dental industry response to concerns about the growth of direct-to-consumer alternatives, with the campaign’s organisers worried about more people performing treatments at home – potentially putting themselves in danger.

Research by the Oral Health Foundation reveals one-in-four (25%) UK households have opted for some form of DIY dentistry during the pandemic.

The nationwide study also shows over half (55%) of adults feel they have neglected their teeth during lockdown.  Around one-in-seven (15%) admit to not brushing their teeth as much as before the pandemic.  One-in-five (20%) are eating unhealthier foods, and more than one-in-ten (11%) have been drinking more alcohol. 1

Dr Nigel Carter, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation is worried about the risks people are taking by carrying out dental treatment at home and believes it could be covering up undiagnosed conditions and diseases.

Dr Carter says:

We are extremely concerned by evidence suggesting the UK’s oral health habits have declined during the pandemic, and that many people are taking to DIY treatments at home to either fix or cover up any problems.

Attempting your own dental treatment at home is very dangerous. We have seen first-hand the severe and long-term damage that can be caused. Chemical burns, blisters, ulcerations, and swelling are just some of the consequences people have experienced.  It also prevents any conditions from being diagnosed and treated in a timely manner.  Diseases in the mouth that do not receive professional treatment are far more likely to develop into something far more dangerous.

Never take risks when it comes to your smile.  For the best, safest, and most effective treatment, always see a dental professional in a dental practice.  Safe Smiles will help you make smart and safe choices when it comes to improving the health and appearance of your smile and help you debunk some of the myths you may have seen online.

Safe Smiles was announced earlier today at this year’s British Orthodontic Society’s annual conference (16 September) in Manchester, in a joint press conference between the Oral Health Foundation and the British Orthodontic Society.

Findings from the British Orthodontic Society suggest that adults have become more conscious of their smile during lockdown.  Over half of orthodontists (60%) say they have seen a larger than expected demand for treatment during the pandemic.  It is suspected those affected could be looking for solutions to treat dental problems and improve the appearance of their smile. 

Speaking at the launch of the campaign, Anshu Sood, Director of Clinical Practice at the British Orthodontic Society, says:

 We’re delighted to be extending our long-standing campaign with the Oral Health Foundation.  It’s heartening to see overwhelming endorsement from the dental sector.  This couldn’t be more timely.  Our recent stats revealed the pandemic has seen a rise in the number of people seeking orthodontic treatment.  With this demand comes a growth in online companies offering treatments.

Embarking on treatment without seeing a suitably trained clinician could result in serious conditions being missed or dangerous treatment carried out.  We want to ensure patients have the very best advice about the safest and most effective way to have treatment.  We know that, when carried out correctly, orthodontic treatment can have a positive and life-changing impact.

Data shows that more than four-in-five (84%) UK adults want to change something about their smile.  Over the next year, more than one-in-three (35%) are thinking about having their teeth whitened while around one-in-six (16%) are considering orthodontic treatment. 1

Safe Smiles will be asking everyone considering dental treatments to visit dental practices in the UK and have treatment carried out by clinicians registered with the GDC.

The campaign will tackle the dangers associated with dental tourism, inappropriately fitting mouthguards, as well as harmful aesthetic changes to the mouth like lip tattoos, oral piercings, tooth jewellery, modifications and grillz.

The new campaign is being supported by Align Technology and has gathered support from across the dental world.  The campaign has already received endorsement from the British Dental Industry Association, British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, British Dental Bleaching Society, British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy, British Association of Dental Nurses, and British Association of Dental Therapists.

Edmund Proffitt, BDIA Chief Executive says:

The British Dental Industry Association is delighted to be supporting Safe Smiles. With ever growing interest in cosmetic dental work, the dental industry feels that it is very important that patients can achieve a healthy smile in a safe environment. Be it orthodontic work, tooth whitening or any other aesthetic dental treatment, working with trained dental professionals within a dental practice is a great way to get safe and effective treatment.

With some unsafe and unregulated online and ‘do-it-yourself’ treatments available, and unfortunately, a number of unregulated practitioners offering treatments, we thoroughly recommend that patients engage directly with dental professionals to get the best, safest healthy smile.  

  1. ORAL HEALTH FOUNDATION (2020) ‘National Dental Survey’ Atomik Research. UK. Sample 2,004.