Driving Oral Awareness in Nigeria, the Pepsodent Example

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In commemoration of the 2022 World Oral Health Day, a leading global toothpaste brand  Pepsodent,  is set to engage 1million children in Nigeria on the importance of oral health to people’s overall well-being and quality of life. Writes MARY NNAH

World over, poor oral health is linked with a decrease in the level of economic productivity. This explains why an estimated 200million dollars is being lost yearly as a result of man-hours due to workers’ absenteeism and hours lost due to trips to dental clinics to treat oral diseases in their late stages.

Unfortunately, the treatment of oral diseases in their late stages has left serious consequences. A recent report revealed that one out of every 10 adults is known to have one oral health challenge or the other.

Although oral health diseases are known to be more prevalent among adults, there is an increasing growth trend of children suffering from one oral health disease or the other.

Due to the high prevalence of this disease, oral health conditions became a huge priority on the non-communication disease list because they share similar risk factors alongside other NCDs such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines oral health as a disease- and disorder-free state that limits a person’s ability to bite, chew, smile, and speak, as well as their psychosocial status. Thus, the presence of oral diseases can affect a person’s growth and development, as well as their psychic, productive, and social capacity.

Oral health is recognised as an essential component of quality of life; however, historically more attention has been paid to its mainly local clinical consequences, regardless of the impact these can have on people’s daily lives.

 Although Nigeria lacks any oral health policy, there has been an increasing drive to address the burden of oral disease in Nigeria by the different stakeholders. 

Engaging Children on Import of Oral Health

Thus, in commemoration of the 2022 World Oral Health Day, Pepsodent, a leading global toothpaste brand endorsed by the Nigerian Dental Association is set to engage 1million children in Nigeria on the importance of oral health to people’s overall well-being and quality of life. 

The children will be reached through the educational schools’ programmes with an emphasis on the importance of brushing day and night. Free toothpaste and toothbrushes would be given to the children to facilitate their brushing habits.

The theme for this year’s World Oral Health Day is ‘Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late #TalktoaDentist.’ The aim is to help raise awareness to ensure people understand the importance of acting early, from the moment a problem arises. 

The World Oral Health Day is a yearly activity celebrated globally to increase awareness of the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene and educate the public on the major activities that help to ensure good oral hygiene.

Advocacy

In Nigeria, Pepsodent toothpaste has been at the forefront of driving conversations on good oral hygiene through initiatives that include but are not limited to the Schools Programmes, Mobile Dental Clinics, Oral Health Education Conferences, and various consumer education and engagement across digital and traditional media.

Speaking during a Press conference to commemorate the day, The Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Director, Unilever West Africa, Soromidayo George noted that the essence of the campaign is to drive behavioral change at an early age.

“In a demonstration of our commitment to improving oral hygiene in Nigeria, Pepsodent has reached over 5 million school children by educating them on the importance of brushing twice daily and creating a 21-day routine for them to develop a habit of brushing first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. Free Pepsodent toothpaste and toothbrushes were given to the children to help facilitate their brushing habits.”

On her part, the Category Manager, Oral Care, Eva Ogudu, revealed that the brand, in partnership with the Nigerian Dental Association, will have mobile dental clinics in specific neighbourhoods across the country to provide free dental services to consumers and make Pepsodent toothpaste available to them to drive consistent brush twice daily communication.

“In addition, to our mobile dental clinic initiative for this year, there would be an online digital activation through Instagram live videos tagged ‘Ask Your Dentist’ which would be launched on March 20, 2022, to provide consumers direct access to a dentist to ask their dental related questions. 

Through these initiatives, we aim to help millions of people take control of their oral health and avoid severe pain, costly and complicated treatments, and ultimately tooth loss through these services which would run yearly.” Said Ogudu.

The President of the Nigerian Dental Association (NDA), Dr. Kola Obagbemiro, lent his voice at the event to advocate for good oral hygiene.

 “People often ignore the warning signs of a problem, such as a toothache or gum bleeding, hoping it will go away. However, talking to a dentist at the first sign of a problem can help fix the issues before they become serious. 

“Understanding the terrible consequences of waiting, such as severe pain, more difficult and costly treatments, and ultimately, tooth loss, is vital to helping people realize why early identification and treatment is so important,” he said.

Speaking further, he noted that oral health was essential to human general health and wellbeing. He stated that there was a need to ensure proper practice to guarantee good health. He implored everyone to take their oral health seriously in the way and manner they treat other parts of the body.

“A lot of us have not had a dental check for many years. We need to do it regularly. We cannot afford to pay lip service to our oral health because it can negatively affect our self-confidence and social skills. What Pepsodent is doing now would go a long way to amplify oral health drive”, he said. 

Also speaking, the Head of Dentistry, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Bola Alonge, encouraged Nigerians to take their oral health seriously. 

“The government is working through the various healthcare systems in the country to make access to dentists commonplace to enable people to improve their oral health. We are also working with the private sector through brands like Pepsodent to reach more people with enlightenment campaigns on the importance of good oral health.” She said.

Pepsodent toothpaste endorsed by the Nigerian Dental Association is a brand that consumers can trust and delivers excellently on anti-cavity protection, fresh breath, and whitening brand promise.

Effects

Oral diseases are among the most common diseases which pose a major health burden globally.

According to dental experts, untreated tooth decay can have a serious long-lasting effect, especially on children’s growth, brain development, and overall health with many children consequently missing out on school and social opportunities.

This is further worsened by the lack of optimal dental care especially in Nigeria due to affordability and access, leaving the majority of tooth decay cases untreated.

Statistics

Data from BMC Oral Health shows that as of 2012, Nigeria had about 4125 registered dentists for 167.2 million people which is about 40,000 people to 1 dentist.

However, by 2017, the population of Nigeria which was estimated to be around 193 million could not match the earlier data with the dentist population ratio reported to have dropped to one dentist for every 38,600 people.

Ingenuity by Pepsodent

Having realised this existing awareness gap and buoyed by the commitment to change the narrative, Pepsodent, an oral care brand has devised an ingenious way to drive awareness as a means of promoting oral hygiene with the ultimate goal of eradicating the oral disease in Nigeria.

Since its launch in 2011, the brand has been at the forefront of driving conversations on good oral hygiene and eradicating oral diseases through initiatives like the Schools Program, Mobile Dental Clinics, Oral Health Education Conferences, and various consumer education and engagement across digital and traditional media.

This sincere and sustained commitment to tackling oral healthcare issues in Nigeria, especially among children is consistent with the agenda of its parent company, Unilever which is solving social problems.

Already, the brand has successfully reached over five million children across the country through its school program with an ambition to reach 10 million children by 2024.

Commemorating 2022 World Oral Health Day the Pepsodent Way

In commemoration of the 2022 World Oral Health Day which is a yearly activity celebrated globally to increase awareness of the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene and educate the public on the major activities that help to ensure good oral hygiene, Pepsodent took the campaign a notch higher by embarking on a project to engage one million children in the country through the educational schools’ program with an emphasis on the importance of brushing day and night.

The company gave out free tubes of toothpaste and toothbrushes to children as part of the effort to promote brushing habits.

To drive the campaign, the brand has initiated and sustained partnerships with relevant associations and agencies such as the World Dental Federation (FDI), which is the principal representative body for over one million dentists worldwide, and the brand’s partnership with the Nigerian Dental Association, which is the local representative body of all dentists in Nigeria to drive its ambition.

Pepsodent toothpaste, endorsed by the Nigerian Dental Association, is a brand that delivers excellently on anti-cavity protection, fresh breath, and teeth whitening leveraging its partnership and product offerings.

Speaking during a press conference to commemorate the historic occasion, The Corporate Affairs, and Sustainability Director, Unilever West Africa, Soromidayo George reiterated the company’s commitment to addressing the challenge of oral health particularly among children whose self-esteem has been affected by oral disease.

 “Oral conditions are the world’s most widespread disease that demands urgent attention. We cannot afford to leave the diseases to grow given its implication for school enrolment among children. Oral health diseases are the main causes of school absenteeism. As you are aware, children with poor oral health are more likely to suffer self-confidence and self-esteem issues. Beyond that, poor oral conditions also affect the confidence of adults” George said.

The Category Manager, Oral Care, Unilever, Eva Ogudu revealed that the brand, in partnership with the Nigerian Dental Association, has provided mobile dental clinics in the specific neighbourhood across the country to give free dental services to consumers and make Pepsodent toothpaste available to them as part of efforts to drive consistent brush twice daily communication.

“In addition to our mobile dental clinic initiative for this year, there was an online digital activation through Instagram live videos tagged ‘Ask Your Dentist’ which was launched on March 20, 2022, to provide consumers direct access to a dentist to ask their dental related questions.

” Through these initiatives we aim to help millions of people take control of their oral health and avoid severe pain, costly and complicated treatments, and ultimately tooth loss through these services which would run yearly,” Ogudu added.

Quote “According to dental experts, untreated tooth decay can have a serious long-lasting effect, especially on children’s growth, brain development, and overall health with many children consequently missing out on school and social opportunities”