3 million students miss school because of oral pain—Unilever Report

A report on the impact of oral health on children’s lives has revealed that 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, a Unilever brand of toothpaste showed that the quality of a child’s oral care could 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 per cent) of children who felt oral pain in the last 12 months have not raised their hands in class or asked for help because they felt bad about their teeth (vs. 13per cent among those with no oral pain),” the report stated.

The research was conducted among children aged six to 17 years old and their parents, in eight countries: Ghana, Chile, Egypt, France, Italy, Indonesia, US and Vietnam.

The report made available to the Ghanaian Times said, “Whilst most children and their parents surveyed reported brushing their teeth twice a day, on closer questioning it was revealed that three 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 could 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 were 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 per cent compared to 32 per cent of those with good oral health); their lack of confidence and a lower sense of self-worth affect 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 and 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,” Ms Mpereh added.

By Times Reporter

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