Rochdale primary school teacher goes the extra s-mile to promote healthy teeth for pupils

A headteacher from Greater Manchester has plenty to smile about after being announced as the latest recipient of the Nominate a Smile award.

Garry Johnson (41), head at of Lowerplace Primary School in Rochdale, has been recognised for his determination and passion for tackling childhood tooth decay and obesity across the area.

Nominate a Smile is a competition run in tandem with National Smile Month. It seeks to find special individuals from across the UK who deserves recognition for their role in promoting good oral health in their community.

Mr Johnson has brought several oral health initiatives into the classroom throughout his teaching career, such as making Lowerplace the first “sugar smart” school in the borough by replacing the sugar-filled snacks once on offer at the school with a number of healthy eating schemes, like the “fruit caravan”.

He has also formed a relationship with the local dental practice that regularly comes out to do health checks on the 600 children at Lowerplace.

Following school dental checks, Mr Johnson ensures the results of each child are reported to the parents, giving them the opportunity to continue their child’s oral health education at home.

When asked about what drives him to improve children’s oral health, he said: “In a nutshell, I can’t directly influence the life choices made at home as the adults are in charge. But what I can do at school is to educate and empower our children to take ownership of their lifestyle choices and hopefully bring about changes to oral health routines at home.”

Dr Nigel Carter, OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, praised his dedication to helping young children think about their teeth. 

He said: “Garry has successfully introduced a number of projects at the school, all with the aim of improving the oral health of his pupils. The Oral Health Foundation is delighted by his dedication and he is a true ambassador for oral health.”

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