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Keep Stoke Smiling Campaign nominated for national award

A UHNM Charity-funded oral health project has been nominated for a top national award.

The ‘Keep Stoke Smiling’ campaign, delivered by the Stoke City Community Trust on behalf of UHNM Charity in partnership with University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM), has been shortlisted for ‘Best Charitable Initiative’ at The Dental Awards 2024.

The campaign utilises the power of football to deliver diet and dental health messaging in primary schools across the Potteries.

Dr Karen Juggins, Consultant Orthodontist at UHNM said: “I’m really chuffed that Keep Stoke Smiling has been nominated on a national scale. This reflects the hard work that UHNM has done in partnership with the Stoke City Community Trust to deliver vital oral and dietary advice to over 14,000 school children in Stoke-on-Trent.

“We started the Keep Stoke Smiling project in 2020 as a new, innovative way of delivering oral health care messages to children and young adults in the area. We were bored and tired of the same old NHS standard posters, so what we really wanted was something that would engage, inspire and drive young people in our area to really think about how important it is to look after their teeth.

“It turned out to be a huge success, much better than what we imagined, and the schools were really pleased with what we had to offer. It’s thanks to UHNM Charity for funding the project, and Stoke City Community Trust for helping to deliver the project, that we’re able to raise our oral health care to the next level. It’s UHNM Charity’s vision to see this as a preventative strategy, rather than a treatment. What we’re trying to do with these sessions is stop local children getting dental decay and needing the intervention of UHNM’s Orthodontics team because they’re much more able to look after their own teeth.”

Figures show that Stoke-on-Trent currently sits near the bottom of the UK league table for dental health in children, with a quarter of five-year-olds suffering some form of tooth decay. This costs the NHS £36m per year.

Lisa Thomson, Director of Communications and Charity at UHNM said: “We’re delighted that Keep Stoke Smiling has been shortlisted for this fantastic national award. We have a real problem with oral health in our local area, and by working in partnership with the Stoke City Community Trust on this campaign we can address this and make a difference.”

As part of the Keep Stoke Smiling project, toothbrushes were provided to children that didn’t previously own one, together with advice on how to use them correctly.

In addition, each of the schools engaged in the project pledged to be fizzy drink free because of the initiative.

Elaine Watson, a year four teacher at Burnwood Primary School said: “The children were really engaged in the session, and left school buzzing. It offered us an easy way into difficult conversations, and now some of the parents have registered at a dentist for their children’s first visit. This is a brilliant outcome for us all.”

Dr Juggins and the Keep Stoke Smiling Team kick-started National Smile Month at the Royal Stoke on Friday by holding a drop-in session, with help from Stoke City Football Club mascot Pottermus. Patients and staff had the chance to learn more about the importance of oral health, along with orla health and dietary tips from nurses, along with a raffle.

You can follow the campaign on social media using the hashtag #KeepStokeSmiling.

Winners of The Dental Awards are announced on Thursday 23 May.

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