News & media Young people lead the way in oral health during lockdown Whilst we have been stuck indoors, National Smile Month survey data shows many Brits found it easier to maintain better oral health. Young people in particular have led the way with many saying their oral health habits improved over lockdown. One in five Brits (20%) said that they had developed the habit of brushing their teeth for longer during the pandemic. Young people in particular stated they took up better brushing habits during the pandemic with over a quarter (27%) of 18 – 24 year olds saying that they brushed their teeth for longer compared to just over one in ten (13%) over 55s. Similar results were also seen with other beneficial oral health measures on top of brushing your teeth twice daily, such as using mouthwash. Approximately one in seven (14%) of Brits said that they had used mouthwash more during the pandemic. So with data suggesting that many Brits have found it easier to look after their oral health at home, what happens when you are out and about? Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, believes that chewing sugar-free gum could be a possible solution. Dr Carter says: “When it comes to oral health on the go chewing sugar-free gum can provide a handy boost. Chewing sugar-free gum encourages saliva flow, the body’s natural defence to acids from food and drinks. “By keeping some handy in a draw in the office, or in your coat pocket or handbag, you’ll always have an oral health pick-me-up right at your fingertips. “As well as sugar-free gum you could also keep a small travel-size bottle of mouthwash in a drawer or your coat pocket. By making a mental note to use the mouthwash straight after lunch or have some sugar-free gum you can start cement the habit and ensure that your oral health remains in top shape throughout the day.” As well as highlighting good practice when it comes to oral health on the go, it’s important to highlight bad practice too. Our most recent data on the issue shows that many Brits use unhygienic and potentially damaging methods to clean between their teeth on the go. For example, one in ten Brits (10%) admit to using a business card to clean between their teeth. Shockingly, the equivalent of around 2 million Brits have admitted to using the back of an earring to interdentally clean. As a proud sponsor of National Smile Month 2021, Mars Wrigley are keen to promote the benefits of good oral health on the go. David Henderson, Wrigley Oral Healthcare Programme Manager says: “As lockdown restrictions ease and we are able to cautiously return to doing the things we all love, we must continue to look after our oral health. As we enter a ‘new normal’, our oral healthcare routines must also adapt, ensuring that alongside brushing twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste, additional measures are taken to help prevent tooth decay. Chewing sugarfree gum after eating and drinking is an easy and enjoyable way to look after your smile on the go, and it is supported by dental professionals. The Wrigley Oral Healthcare Programme is delighted to continue our support for National Smile Month for the 8th consecutive year. The campaign plays an essential role in ensuring that the public are aware of the importance of good oral health routines.” Maintaining good oral health is at the heart of National Smile Month which is running from 17 May – 17 June this year. This fun and positive campaign has a whole host of activities and competitions that the whole family can get involved in. For more information head to www.smilemonth.org. For more information about the work of the Wrigley Oral Health Care Programme head to www.wrigleyoralhealthcare.co.uk. A special thanks to all our National Smile Month sponsors this year which include Align Technology, Oral B, GSK, Johnson & Johnson makers of Listerine, Wrigley Oral Health Care Programme, Philips, TePe and Thumbsie. References 1. Oral Health Foundation, 'National Smile Month Survey 2021', UK, Broadcast Revolution, April 2021, Sample 2,009. 2. Oral Health Foundation (2016). ‘National Smile Month Survey 2016’, Atomik Research, April 2016, United Kingdom, sample 2,009.