People's History of the NHS


The Happy Smile

This poster was part of a broad dental hygiene campaign organised by the Ministry of Health to reduce the rates of childhood dental caries during the 1950s and 1960s. The end of rationing in 1954 had brought about a massive increase in sugar consumption and as a result there was a huge rise in the number of cavities present in children, in particular.

The National Archives, INF 13/178 (Image reproduced by the National Archives for Jane Hand via their Image Library reproduction service).

5 thoughts on “The Happy Smile

  1. I remember being in primary school at Coldingham Scotland and my teeth were shells . They had to be removed with tweezers stressful at the time . A campaign was going just remember a woman with perfect teeth and an apple poster. When I was older I made sure I looked after my teeth and that off my children . Have tried to find this poster on line no success . Just want to say that campaign was a success for me so let’s tackle health issues in primary school . A massive thank you to who ever ran that campaign in 1950 ‘s . At 68 years I still have my own teeth .

  2. I have been looking for the lyrics of a song we learnt in primary school in the late 50’s, early 60’s, I think as part of the same campaign regarding dental health improvement. It had the line, ‘brush your teeth last thing at night, no more food now just sleep tight, then you’ll wake up fresh and bright, with a happy smile’.
    Do you happen to know this song, and whether it was in fact part of the same campaign.
    We loved it as little children in a tiny school in the Highlands of Scotland,
    very effective in that most of the advice in the song stays in my mind after almost 60 years .
    Yours sincerely,
    K Beaton

    1. After breakfast every day ,brush your teeth the proper way , if you want them all to stay in a happy smile . Turn your back on the sticky snack that puts you off what’s nourishing . Nice crisp food does far more…………. treat your dentist as a friend ,all your teeth he,’ll check and tend . Keep them healthy to the end in a happy smile. This is what l remember from all those years ago, with a badge and an Apple. Hope this helps. Regards christine. Paisley.Christine

      1. Hi Christine, this is a great memory! Public health images can never fully capture the various other methods used to encourage kids to brush their teeth. This rhyme is a great addition to our understanding – thank you for telling us about it. I’ve seen some ‘Happy Smile’ badges in the archives but very happy to know that they were distributed to children and alongside an apple! Thanks again, Jane

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