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Pepsodent Celebrates World Oral Health Day, On The 20th March 2015

By admin
20 March 2015

In a keynote address in Nigeria, Dr Myriam Sidibe, Unilever Social Mission Hygiene and Nutrition Director Africa, communicated Unilever’s global commitment to improve the oral care of 100 million people by 2020.

In her address, Dr Myriam Sidibe, stated; World Oral Health Day is above all a celebration. It is a chance for the world to come together to mark all that has already been achieved in improving oral healthcare around the globe. But it is also a chance for us to reflect on what still needs to be done.

Figures from the World Health Organisation throw the scale of the challenge into sharp relief.

Despite being easily preventable, tooth decay still affects nearly 100% of the global adult population and 60 – 90% of children[1]. Crucially, untreated tooth decay can have a serious and long-lasting effect on children’s growth and overall health, with many consequently missing out on school and social opportunities.

Studies have revealed that children who have good oral hygiene and are free from toothache, are more likely to be high achievers in school compared to those who have toothache due to cavities and poor oral hygiene. Oral diseases in children can impact their self-esteem, and they may avoid laughing or smiling due to the perceived poor appearance of their teeth.

But it’s not just children that are impacted by Oral Care problems. In fact, cavities are a major cause of absenteeism from work in adults, resulting in both short and long-term impacts on economic productivity. During economic downturns, patients may delay consultation and treatment, with disastrous financial and health ramifications. Untreated tooth decay can prevent people from turning up to work which results in companies under performing, targets not being met and consequently impacting the economy.

We believe that by teaching children to brush at a young age, we can establish good oral routines that become a habit for life and lead not only to healthier communities, but happier ones too.

It is for this reason that Pepsodent is celebrating World Oral Health Day through a global initiative aimed at improving health care for children everywhere.

The scale of this project is ambitious, targeting 27 counties worldwide to help drive education about cavity causes and prevention, as well as correct brushing techniques. It is all part of Unilever’s global commitment to improve the oral care of 100 million people by 2020. In Africa specifically, Unilever’s commitment is to improve the Oral Care of 25 million children by 2020 and thereby uplift their health standards.

It is a goal Unilever is already well on target to meet, having already reached around 57 million children across the globe with education campaigns that are helping them improve their dental health.

March 20th, will mark the launch of the latest of Unilever’s global school initiatives; the Brush Day and Night school programme which will kick off across a number of countries in Africa, including South Africa and Nigeria.

Through educational resources such as teeth mock ups, flip charts and fun ‘edutaining’ songs, this programme will make a real difference to children, playing a crucial role in teaching them how to maintain a healthier mouth. Of course, we understand that education does not stop at the school gate, and for this reason we are working with children across the world to extend better dental hygiene into the home.

Thanks to behavioural science we know that behaviours are interlinked and that children have a unique power to influence the rest of their families. We believe that by tapping into this ability of children to inspire those around them, we can get whole families and communities thinking about how they can improve their brushing habits.

That is why, through the Brush Day and Night campaign, Pepsodent is looking to turn school children into ‘Little Dentists’.

What is a ‘Little Dentist’?

We know that once a school child has learned the importance of brushing, they will want to share this knowledge with their friends and family. They will become ambassadors for better dental care and exactly the sort of people we want to have on our side. These Little Dentists will create change by taking the lessons they learn at school and applying it to their home lives, inspiring their parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters around better oral health in the process. To assist them, Unilever will make available a manual that will show them, and teachers, how they can best brush each day and night.

Unilever and Pepsodent have big ambitions for today, for 2015 and for well beyond.

It is a project we are honoured to be working on and one that we believe will make a real difference to millions of lives in Africa and worldwide.

[1] Source: World Health Organisation fact sheet (N°318)