Boost for City’s Oral Health

Ground-breaking work in oral health will continue in Plymouth – thanks to the Wrigley Company Foundation.

Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise (PDSE) has been successful in a third grant application to the Wrigley Company Foundation which partners with nonprofits around the world to help promote the well-being of people and our planet, focussing on oral health, environmental stewardship and local needs. The grant will support the continued development of its school-based oral health education initiative ‘Open Wide and Step Inside’ for four to six year olds in Plymouth.

Featuring a fun and interactive film, the project aims to tackle the city’s growing tooth decay problem by helping to raise the profile of dental decay and highlight the large number of children who are hospitalised for tooth extraction under general anaesthetic – 848 in Plymouth alone in 2015-16.

Dr Robert Witton, Director of Social Engagement and Community-based Dentistry, PDSE, said: “It is fantastic news that PDSE can continue to deliver this much needed activity for our patient base in Plymouth.

“We are incredibly proud of ‘Open Wide and Step Inside’ which is making an important contribution to oral health education.

“We will be using the funds to develop the existing film and teachers’ resource pack and to deliver the programme in 24 schools for the next two academic years. Development work is already underway and we have some exciting plans for the project to improve its scalability and innovation.

“With more children being admitted to hospital for dental problems than for any health issue, data suggests new and innovative approaches are needed to encourage better cleaning, improved diet and frequent visits to the dentist.

“The project conveys precisely those messages to large numbers of local children.”

The programme is central to Plymouth City Council’s Child Poverty Strategy and its dedicated oral health strand, and PDSE is one of the leading partners.

Produced by Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise (PDSE) and Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry (PUPSMD), the ’Open Wide and Step Inside’ film stars Geoffrey the Giant and his friend Mouse who live in Smeaton’s Tower on Plymouth Hoe. Geoffrey has toothache as a result of eating sweets, drinking fizzy drinks and neglecting to clean his teeth properly. Mouse persuades him to visit Daisy the Dentist who finds the problem and gives Geoffrey a filling.

The animation was created by the University of Plymouth’s TELMeD team which produces e-learning and virtual education tools and materials for medical, dental, Faculty of Health and other students, as well as for projects such as the PUPSMD-led ebuddi© initiative designed to train healthcare workers on avoiding cross-contamination in areas affected by Ebola.

The £89k bid follows successful bids in 2013 and 2015 for £105k and £91k respectively, bringing the total awarded to nearly £300k.

About the Wrigley Company Foundation

 The Foundation’s mission is to improve the health of people and our planet through initiatives focused on oral health, environmental stewardship, and local needs. Since its founding in 1987, the Foundation has helped improve lives and communities around the world and has awarded more than $70 million USD to those initiatives.

About Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise (PDSE)

Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise (PDSE) is committed to improving oral health across the South West of England and does this in a number of ways:

  • by running Dental Education Facilities (DEFs) where students from Plymouth University treat NHS patients under the supervision of qualified and experienced dental health professionals
  • by improving awareness of oral health in the wider community
  • by ensuring access to dental care for all, but especially those groups who may feel excluded from mainstream dentistry.
  • Website:

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