Oral Health Foundation

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Oral Health Foundation
Oral Health Foundation logo.jpg
Legal statusNon-profit company and registered charity
PurposeOral health promotion and education
HeadquartersRugby, CV22 6AJ
Region served
United Kingdom
Chief executive
Dr Nigel Carter OBE
Formerly called
British Dental Health Foundation (1971-2016)

The Oral Health Foundation (formerly known as the British Dental Health Foundation) was formed in 1971 and is one of the World's leading independent oral health charities (registered charity number 263198).[1] It is headquartered in the United Kingdom and aims to help the public improve their oral health and hygiene through a range of activities run under the name of the Oral Health Foundation. The current President of the Oral Health Foundation is Liz Kay, and the CEO is Dr Nigel Carter OBE.[citation needed]


On 9 July 1970, thirty dentists with others of similar interests met at the Berners hotel in London to discuss the formation of a new dental health organisation with soon-to-be Chairman Jack Manning being elected to set up a formation committee. The meeting had been the brainchild of a number of enthusiasts from the British Dental Trade Association led by John Davis and Peter de Trey. The formation committee worked in close association with the British Dental Association (BDA) over the next ten months and to then create the British Dental Health Foundation and a meeting was held at the Royal Society of Medicine on Friday 21 May 1971.

Over the next eighteen months an enormous amount of activity was undertaken by the members of the formation committee to establish funding, formulate the Articles and Memorandum of Association and apply to the Charity commissioners for registration as a charity. The charity was to be unique amongst dental bodies in that membership would be open to not only the profession, but also ancillaries and corporate members from the dental trade.

On 26 October 1971, the first meeting of initial subscribers was held at the Royal Society of Medicine. Jack Manning was elected the first Chairman of Council, John Davis the honorary secretary and Martin Seymour the Treasurer. Mr Douglas Lewis was to be appointed as the first consultant director. The Association for the Preservation of Dental Health Ltd, trading as the British Dental Health Foundation (later to become the Oral Health Foundation) was born. Its main aim had been defined as 'To preserve the dental health of the community in all its aspects and in particular to educate the community in the benefits of achieving and maintaining the highest standards of dental health'.[citation needed]

At the time, this type of public activity, which would rely on funding from the dental trade as well as the profession and involve the whole dental team, was not considered by the BDA to be appropriate to its role as the dentist's professional association, trade union and negotiating body. Indeed, it was not until some eighteen years later, after one or two previous abortive forays into the world of public relations that the BDA set up its press office with ex-Oral Health Foundation Executive Director Lynn Stroud at the helm.[citation needed]


The Oral Health Foundation has two annual awareness campaigns that act as extensions of their work in providing oral health information to the public. In the United Kingdom National Smile Month has been running since 1976 and is one of the largest dental health education events in Europe and the world.[2] The Oral Health Foundation also organises and co-ordinates Mouth Cancer Action Month annually during November.[3]

Current work carried out by the International arm includes:

  • Approving dental products on every continent to make the Foundation the biggest dental accreditation body in the world
  • Working in the Middle East to translate patient information leaflets into Arabic for distribution throughout the Arabian peninsula
  • Translating the Foundation's Tell Me About information into nine different languages.[4]


Oral Health Foundation Approved logo.png

Many approaches had been made to the Oral Health Foundation over the years by companies wishing to accredit oral hygiene products. One of these included a talk at the 1975 AGM by Dr William Brown from Iowa on - 'Endorsement of Dental Products - Yes or No?'.[citation needed]

In 1991 the time was considered right to launch an Accreditation scheme but few could have predicted just how it would transform the financial health and future of the Oral Health Foundation. In the first eight months of the scheme alone some 37 products were accredited and steady growth in the succeeding years have led to some 280 product submissions and 150 products on shelf with live accreditation.[citation needed]

Today, the Oral Health Foundation is responsible for the largest dental product accreditation scheme in the world, covering over 250 products in over 50 countries. It is a "Claims-based" scheme and approved products are awarded the Smiley-face logo which is displayed on packaging to help inform and advise the public.[citation needed]

Dental Helpline[edit]

The Oral Health Foundation has a free and independent Dental Helpline that is staffed by fully trained oral health experts and dental nurses. The Dental Helpline has taken more than 350,000 calls since it was launched on 2 June 1997.[5]


The Oral Health Foundation's website attracts in excess of three million visitors every year.[6]

On 14 February 2011 the Oral Health Foundation moved from the .org.uk domain and launched their new website at www.dentalhealth.org. The site includes new features such as a dental blog written by Chief Executive Dr Nigel Carter and a number of other guest bloggers, a regularly updated dental and oral health news section and a dentistry-based forum gaining the attention to both public and profession.

The most popular feature of the dental health website is the "A-Z Oral Health Information" section.[7] Presented in a user-friendly Question and Answers (Q&A) format, the section contains oral health information and advice about more than 50 different topics.



  • The Association for the Preservation of Dental Health Limited incorporated on 14 October 1971 operating as the British Dental Health Foundation.
  • First formal meeting of the charity held on 26 October 1971.


  • The British Dental Health Foundation launches its first campaign “The Mouth – Who Cares” on 14 June 1972.
  • The British Dental Health Foundation holds its first Annual General Meeting on 13 December 1972.


  • The British Dental Health Foundation establishes Regional Branches in the North, Midlands, and South West. First regional meetings are held in Leeds in January 1976; Birmingham in September 1976; and the Western Branch on 25 November.


  • The ‘Smile 77’ project was introduced by Pam Ayres in Birmingham and repeated in 1978. The project became the forerunner for National Smile Month.
  • The British Dental Health Foundation’s Scotland Branch established.
  • The British Dental Health Foundation publishes its first patient information leaflets called ‘Information Gum Disease’ and ‘Information Crowns’.


  • North West Branch established March in 1978 and a London Branch formed on 30 November 1978.


  • National Smile Week held for the first time.


  • British Dental Health Foundation annual income reaches £100,000 for the first time.


  • The first ‘Smile of the Year’ competition held.


  • The British Dental Health Foundation moves from Milton Keynes to Rugby, Warwickshire.


  • Name officially changes to British Dental Health Foundation on 30 October 1990 from The Association for the Preservation of Dental Health Limited.


  • Product Accreditation is launched on 15 October 1991
  • The first British Dental Health Foundation Dental Awards were held.
  • British Dental Health Foundation introduces range of ‘Tell Me About’ leaflets.


  • British Dental Health Foundation celebrates its 25th Anniversary.


  • Dental Helpline opened on 2 June 1997.
  • Sally Goss becomes the first female Chair.
  • Former Chair, Dr Nigel Carter, appointed Chief Executive.


  • British Dental Health Foundation adopts a new constitution and is governed by a Board of Trustees.
  • Sally Goss becomes last Chair and first President of the charity on 17 February 2000.


  • The British Dental Health Foundation moves to its new headquarters in Smile House, Rugby.


  • British Dental Health Foundation takes responsibility for promoting Mouth Cancer Action.


  • National Smile Month campaign is run overseas (USA) for the first time.
  • British Dental Health Foundation accredits its 500th product on 12 November 2008.


  • British Dental Health Foundation reaches £1 million in annual income for the first time.


  • British Dental Health Foundation celebrates its 40th birthday on 14 October 2011.
  • Product Accreditation celebrates its 20th anniversary.


  • In October the British Dental Health Foundation became a member of the Platform for Better Oral Health in Europe.


  • Dental Buddy school programme launched on 3 April 2013.


  • Taking place throughout June 2014, National Smile Month was held in the United Arab Emirates for the first time.


  • British Dental Health Foundation becomes Oral Health Foundation on 4 April 2016.
  • National Smile Month celebrates its 40th birthday on 16 May 2016.


  • The Dental Helpline marks 20 years of providing public advice.
  • Elizabeth Kay becomes the charity’s latest president on 6 December 2017.

For full list of milestones see https://www.dentalhealth.org/history-and-milestones


  1. ^ "Oral Health Foundation charity reference number and stats". Charity Commission. 7 May 2009. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
  2. ^ "National Smile Month". OHF. January 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  3. ^ "Mouth Cancer Action Month". OHF. August 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  4. ^ "What we do". OHF. January 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  5. ^ "Dental Helpline". OHF. January 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  6. ^ "Oral Health Foundation". OHF. September 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  7. ^ "A-Z Oral Health Information". OHF. February 2011. Retrieved 6 December 2018.

External links[edit]