10 Nov

Oral Health Foundation launches new campaign to encourage safe dentistry

The Oral Health Foundation has launched a new campaign to encourage and promote safe dentistry.

Safe Smiles is designed to raise awareness of the risks of DIY dentistry, buying products online and undergoing treatment provided by practitioners who do not have formal dental training. The charity’s programme has been developed in response to an alarming rise in DIY dentistry and growth in the direct-to-consumer dental market.

Research conducted by the foundation suggests that 25% of UK households have attempted DIY dentistry or used DIY services or products since the start of the pandemic. Over half of adults admit that they have neglected their dental health, with 10% of people drinking more and 15% brushing less than before the Covid-19 crisis. Around 20% of people have also been eating less healthily.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, said that he is “extremely concerned” about the rise in DIY dentistry and the potential implications of people attempting DIY repairs or using stop-gap solutions to cover up dental issues. DIY treatments and remedies can cause more harm than good and there is a risk of severe complications, including swelling, excessive bleeding, chemical burns and ulceration.

The primary aim of the campaign is to encourage people who need help or advice to go to their dentist or seek assistance from dental professionals. The Safe Smiles campaign was launched at a joint press conference hosted by the Oral Health Foundation and the British Orthodontic Society (BOS).

Studies suggest that there has been a sharp rise in the number of adults enquiring about orthodontics during the pandemic. Director of clinical practice at the BOS, Anshu Sood, said that the launch of the campaign is timely, given the influx of adult patients and growth in the direct-to-consumer market, with online companies offering cheaper alternatives to traditional orthodontic treatment.

Topics covered by the campaign include the risks of dental tourism, poorly-fitted mouth guards, DIY dental treatment, online orthodontics and modifications to the smile, such as grillz and oral piercings.