Teen helps local youth brush up on oral health

Pictured: Chloe Ward, Graphics student at Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group (NSCG), designed the 'tooth angel' artwork for the second billboard. Chloe and her class of second-year graphic design students were asked by Karen Juggins, Consultant Orthodontist at UHNM, to help tackle the growing problem as part of a project with the college group.

UHNM's #keepstokesmiling campaign is coming to the crunch. As part of National Smile Month, the Royal Stoke-based team is launching another billboard, the second in a series of eye-catching oral health awareness posters set to go up throughout the city. The artwork for the second billboard has been designed by local graphics student and former sugary drinks-addict Chloe Ward. All artwork for the campaign was designed by local teenagers to help educate younger people about the damaging effects of too much sugar.  The campaign is particularly relevant for the local area, as Stoke on Trent has four times the number of children's hospital admissions for decayed teeth than in the rest of the UK.

Chloe has also been selected as the 'Local Smile' for National Smile Month after drastically reducing her own sugar consumption by a whopping 23 drinks per week.

Chloe said: "I used to drink 4-6 bottles of sugary drinks every day. Now, I've completely stopped. I only met Karen because she came to our college to ask us for help with the project, but I'm so glad I did, because it has ended up benefitting me so much. I just didn't fully understand the dental implications of consuming fizzy drinks until Karen explained the real risk they present to teeth, not just from the high sugar content, but also the damage caused by the fizz. We had an open and frank discussion about it, and my whole class was stunned. We continued to discuss both the project and the risk to our teeth and it became quite the topic of conversation. For the project, my graphics tutor helped me to think about the different ways I could communicate with my target audience and to refine my idea into a full campaign, with 'the tooth angel' as the result.

"Being involved in the campaign and having Karen speak so passionately about the damage fizzy drinks do to teeth has made me change my own habit. It's saved me money and more importantly, it's probably saved my teeth. And an added bonus is that I have lost weight too! It's fair to say that I was addicted to sugary drinks, having drunk them for several years. The thought of not having them was certainly hard at first, but once I was over the first week, it wasn't so bad. It's also improved my diet because the drinks made me feel full and bloated and I snacked instead of eating proper meals. Now, I snack less and eat more healthily. I will never look back and I am delighted to be part of the campaign and to be chosen as the 'Local Smile'. It was also great to see my work on Instagram and especially on a billboard, truly mind-blowing! Me and my family were so happy and proud of my achievements and I hope my advert helps to raise awareness and persuade other young people in Stoke-on-Trent to make similar changes to me."

Karen Juggins, Consultant Orthodontist, said: "Grossly decayed teeth in children and young adults is one of our biggest dental health problems. The consumption of high sugar-content fizzy drinks is without doubt a large contributing factor and many of our patients seem unaware of the consequences. For example, a can of cola contains an average nine cubes of sugar and an energy drink can contain 13 cubes of sugar or more."

"Chloe has played a massive part in the success of this campaign so far, not just because of her brilliant artwork, but because she has set such a sterling example herself in the changes she's made."

Stoke-on-Trent City Council is also supporting the campaign as part of their work promoting health and wellbeing for people across the local area.

Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, Director of Adult Social Care, health integration and wellbeing at Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: "We are committed to improving the oral health of all of our residents. The city council co-ordinates and supports the delivery of a number of initiatives, mainly focusing on encouraging good oral health practices from an early age through to adulthood. To help tackle poor dental health and tooth decay, from September all day nurseries and nursery classes in schools will have the opportunity to take part in a free Supervised Toothbrushing Programme - a fun and engaging project encouraging children to brush their teeth properly.

"We also work with schools and health visitors to give dietary and brushing advice, and to encourage everybody to visit the dentist regularly. Along with the Keep Stoke Smiling campaign, National Smile Month is a brilliant opportunity to raise awareness of how good oral health practices improve health and wellbeing.

We look forward to continuing to work with University Hospitals of North Midlands to promote the Keep Stoke Smiling campaign and to improve dental health in Stoke-on-Trent."

For more information on the Supervised Toothbrushing Programme and other aspects of oral health information and resources available, please contact viv.hawken@stoke.gov.uk

You can follow the Royal Stoke Orthodontic Team on Instagram using hashtag #keepstokesmiling – and keep a lookout for their new page on Facebook – coming soon!