Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy The Hippo To Help Young Children Look After Their Teeth

'Happy the Hippo' has been recruited by the British Dental Health Foundation to help teach young children how to look after their teeth. Around one third of children under the age of 12 in the UK continue to suffer from dental decay. Happy will be joining the Foundation in May to help lead the 35th National Smile Month campaign.

Despite major improvements in children's oral health over the past 40 years, many children are still being affected by dental decay. The most recent data suggests that around a third (31 per cent) of five year olds starting primary school will have dental decay (1). The picture is slightly worse for children aged 12 in secondary schools - one third of children in every classroom will have signs of visible dental decay (2).

The theme of this year's National Smile Month campaign is the 'Smile Factor'. In adulthood peoples' mouth, teeth and smiles are fundamental to all aspects of their life - whether career, personality, relationships, attraction or all-round good health. Creating good oral health habits from an early age are especially important to help children keep their smile factors throughout their lives.

Happy the Hippo said: "I am really pleased to be helping the Foundation. Children can visit our website here to find out about how to look after their teeth and also download my face mask. We also have a free Dental Helpline at the Foundation, which can help Mums, Dads, guardians, teachers, friends and lots of other people about all aspects of looking after children's teeth."

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, says: "Over the past 40 years we have made great improvements in children's oral health. In 1973, nine out of every ten children aged twelve showed signs of visible dental decay. However, the incidence of dental decay still remains too high and we hope that Happy the Hippo will show more children how to look after their teeth better.

"National Smile Month between 15 May and 15 June is a great opportunity for parents, guardians, schools and teachers to get involved. We have lots of excellent free resources on our website to help educate and improve children's oral health."


1. In 2009, one third (33.3 per cent) of children aged 12 were found to have visible dental decay. In 1973, this figure was more than 90 per cent.Source: NHS Dental Epidemiology Programme for England - Oral Health Survey of 12 year old Children 2008 / 2009.

2. In 2008, 31 per cent of children aged five show signs of obvious dental decay. Source: NHS Dental Epidemiology Programme for England; Oral Health Survey of five year old children, 2007/2008.

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