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Poor oral hygiene is one of the most common conditions of humankind, which effect more than 3.9 billion people, around the globe, every year. In South Africa, it is estimated that approximately 60-79% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 have dental decay, which is often left untreated due to inappropriate, unaffordable or unavailable oral health care services1.
In support of this year’s global World Oral Health Day (WOHD) which takes place on 20 March, Unilever will be launching the Pepsodent ‘Brush Day & Night’ Schools programme. The first phase of the project will focus on educating 100 000 learners in 150 Gauteng based primary schools, over a 21 day period, on the importance of oral hygiene and how it is so closely linked to one’s overall physical health and wellbeing.
“It takes 21 days to form a habit and the need for intervention and education around oral health is urgently required. It is for this reason that initiatives such as these are vital in creating a movement for change in a more favourable direction, “explains Dr Yvette Solomons, chairperson of SADA board.
“Focusing on changing the brushing habits and negative perceptions around oral hygiene at a primary school level is key, as good life-long habits can be easily formed at this age. If this programme can effectively communicate the importance of brushing ones teeth for two minutes, twice a day (day and night) with a fluoridated toothpaste such as Pepsodent, then the lives of 100 000 children, and their families and community, will be changed for the better”.
“By incorporating these three vital and cost effective elements into your daily routine, along with other simple measures such as consuming less sugar and going for regular dental check-ups when possible, one can reduce the risk of contracting an oral disease,” adds Dr Solomons. “If left unattended, oral hygiene can drastically decline, resulting in intense pain, ill health, absenteeism from life commitments and mounting dentistry expenses, which the majority of people are unable to afford.”
Oral disease, specifically in children, can impact their self-esteem, and they may avoid laughing or smiling due to the perceived poor appearance of their teeth. Absenteeism from school due to dentistry issues can impact not only their academic progress and learning but also their social interaction and growth.
Sphele Mjadu, public relations manager for Unilever, concludes, “Through this programme, we aim to inspire a positive change in the behaviour of South Africa’s children, and hope that they go on to inspire their families and communities when it comes to brushing their teeth in the correct manner. Helping South African children to overcome fears around visits to the dentist and getting them to take an active interest in their own oral hygiene will go a long way in establishing good oral routines that become a habit for life, leading to not only healthier communities, but happier ones too. This also ties in with the theme for this years’ WOHD It all starts here. Healthy mouth. Healthy body”.
To find out more about the Pepsodent ‘Brush Day & Night’ Schools programme, or for tips on how to look after your teeth, visit www.unilever.com