Unilever Ghana, makers of Pepsodent brand of toothpaste, has unveiled a report on the impact of oral health on children's lives which revealed at least an estimated three million children missed school because of oral pain and other dental complications caused by poor hygiene.
The survey commissioned by Pepsodent and the report, published ahead of World Oral Health Day on March 20th, showed that the quality of a child’s oral care can have an impact beyond obvious medical problems like bad breath and dental pain; it can also limit their potential and negatively impact their self-esteem.
The study which was done in eight countries including Ghana indicates that the quality of a child’s oral care has repercussions beyond just health; it limits a child’s potential.
“Almost a quarter (24%) of children who felt oral pain in the last 12 months have not raised their hand in class or asked for help because they felt bad about their teeth (vs. 13% among those with no oral pain),” the report stated.
The research was conducted among children aged 6 to 17 years old and their parents, in eight countries: Ghana, Chile, Egypt, France, Italy, Indonesia, US and Vietnam.
Whilst most children and their parents surveyed reported brushing their teeth twice a day, on closer questioning it was revealed that 3 in 10 parents occasionally allowed their child to skip nightly brushing, which had a direct link to a higher incidence of oral pain.
Commenting on the findings, a Member of the Ghana Dental Association, Dr Esi Fuaba Afful said the quality of a child's oral care can have an impact beyond obvious medical problems like bad breath and dental pain.
She said children with good oral care not only suffer less pain but are also more likely to have high self-esteem which enables them to do well in school and attain other social benefits.
“In contrast, those with poor oral care are more likely to have lower self-esteem (49% compared to 32% of those with good oral health); their lack of confidence and a lower sense of self-worth affects the way they feel and behave in many different ways. Bad oral health can also limit their potential and negatively impact their self-esteem,” Dr Afful added.
Patience Oforiwa Mpereh, Oral care Category Manager at Unilever Ghana said the firm’s brands have been working on prevention through free dental check-ups and school programmes for 25 years.
“So far, we have protected 80 million smiles globally. On top of the all year long work, on World Oral Health Day, we reinforce these messages with events at schools in a number of markets. With this report, Unilever hopes to help evolve the conversation around oral care education around the world to inspire changes today that foster more opportunities for tomorrow,” Mpereh added.