13th May-13th June: Something to smile about!

Published on: Thursday, 16th May 2019

Public Health England (PHE) East Midlands is working with Local Authorities and NHS partners as part of National Smile Month (13 May – 13 June) to ensure that all those in need of NHS dental care can access it even if they are not receiving benefits and on a low income by applying for the NHS Low Income Scheme.

Research undertaken by Leicester City Council in 2015 found that one of the most common reasons given for not visiting the dentist by the 1,100 people surveyed, was that they were not able to afford the NHS dental charges, and many were not aware of the NHS Low Income Scheme.

Spokesperson, Dr. Hanif Moti, said: “Dentistry is one of the few NHS services where you have to pay a contribution towards the cost of your care.  It’s understandable that people may put off going to the dentist due to financial reasons.  However, good oral health is essential for our overall wellbeing.  A healthy smile can transform our visual appearance, the positivity of our mind-set, as well as improving the health of not only our mouth but our body too.  The NHS Low Income Scheme is intended to support those on a low income in being able to access NHS dental care.”

The scheme is available to anyone on a low or non-existent income, as long as your savings, investments or property don’t exceed £16,000 you can apply for full or partial help with costs for NHS dental care.  The NHS Low Income Scheme is also applicable to students, as it's based on your income, not your parents – as long as you don't live with them.

Dr. Jasmine Murphy, Consultant in Dental Public Health at PHE East Midlands, said: “It is a huge concern that significant inequalities in oral health exist in the East Midlands. Everyone should be able to have a healthy smile.  A smile can have a remarkable effect on our state of mind, as well as the emotional welfare of others.   There is no reason why, with a good daily oral health routine and regular visits to the dentist, we cannot have that healthy smile.  If you are on a low income, you can still visit your dentist by getting support from the NHS Low Income Scheme - your health doesn’t need to suffer.  Your dentist will also be able to help you in preventing dental disease – by providing advice, applying fluoride varnish or even prescribing high concentration fluoride toothpaste for you when necessary.”

For further information on the NHS Low Income Scheme and how to apply go to www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/nhs-low-income-scheme

National Smile Month is the largest and longest-running campaign to promote good oral health. Together, with thousands of individuals and organisations, it highlights three key messages, all of which go a long way in helping us develop and maintain a healthy mouth. They are:

  • Brush your teeth last thing at night and on at least one other occasion with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Cut down on how much sugary food and drink you have, and how often you have them.
  • Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.

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