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New survey explores how the pandemic has affected our smiles

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  Posted by: The Probe      19th May 2021

New survey data collected by the Oral Health Foundation and Align Technology has found the profound impact of the pandemic on the way UK adults view their smiles.

More than half (58%) of British adults surveyed responded that they have changed the way they see their smile as a result of online video calls, with a third (33%) now more aware of the colour of their teeth and nearly a quarter (24%) more conscious about the alignment of their teeth.

The new research, released as part of National Smile Month, shows that one-in-ten (11%) UK adults feels self-conscious seeing their smile during an online meeting or video call.

Dr. Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, believes the growth and increased use of digital technologies has led to an increased exposure of the smile. “Physical interactions have been limited over the last 12 months, and for many, have been replaced with gatherings online. This technology has been an invaluable tool, whether it be facilitating business meetings or allowing grandparents to see their new-born grandchildren for the first time. It has also led to us seeing our own face, and smile, far more than we are used to.”

The smile is one of the most important assets we have and is how we communicate our thoughts, emotions and feelings towards one another. Because of its prominence, and importance, the smile can also be a great source of concern for some people.

“The colour and shape of our teeth are the first things we tend to notice and feeling self-conscious is quite normal.  What we must remember, however, is that the most important part of the smile, is its health” – added Dr. Carter.

A healthy mouth can be achieved through an effective oral health routine at home as well as regular dental visits. The key components of an effective oral health routine are brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste for two minutes, cleaning in between the teeth daily with interdental brushes or floss and cutting down on how much and how often you have sugary foods and drinks.

Maintaining a healthy smile is at the heart of National Smile Month – a charity campaign by the Oral Health Foundation. Taking place between 17 May and 17 June, National Smile Month is an opportunity for everybody to gain more confidence about their smile by learning the basics behind having good oral health.

The Oral Health Foundation and Align Technology survey also revealed how the pandemic has affected development of new social connections.

Nearly two-in-three (58%) UK adults surveyed say smiling is important in developing friendships and relationships and believe covering the smile with face mask during the pandemic has had a detrimental effect on forming connections.

As many as 62% of female respondents confirmed that they have been struggling to form connections with others following the introduction of face masks.

Dan Parsons, marketing director UKI, Align Technology, believes that National Smile Month provides many people with a chance to reflect on their smile and take practical steps towards a healthier and happier future. “As the UKI starts to gradually ease restrictions and come out of the pandemic, many of us are finding more reasons to smile again. We are proud to partner with National Smile Month, supporting the efforts of consumers for a healthy, beautiful smile. Most people don’t realise that straighter teeth is not just about good aesthetics; they also contribute to better overall hygiene, gum health, potentially less tooth wear and overall longer and sustained tooth health.

“Our research data shows that many respondents are still hiding their smiles. If that includes you, then please take National Smile Month as your chance to change that.  By taking practical steps to better oral health – including proper cleaning and flossing, regular dental check-ups – or teeth straightening, if your teeth are crooked, you can enjoy the positive and connection-forming benefits that come with a healthy and happy smile.”

For more information about National Smile Month, including how to get involved in this year’s campaign, head to www.smilemonth.org. If anyone requires dental advice or information they can also call our Dental Helpline on 01788 539780*. The confidential Helpline is manned by oral health professionals and is open between 9am – 5pm from Monday to Friday.

*Calls are charged at your standard network rate

REFERENCES

  1. Oral Health Foundation, ‘National Smile Month Survey 2021‘, UK, Broadcast Revolution, April 2021, Sample 2,009.




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