On World Oral Health Day, Wellbeing Foundation Africa's Toyin Saraki joined leading toothpaste brand Pepsodent in partnership with the Nigerian Dental Association, to celebrate the unveiling of its Smile Pledge for school children, within the Pepsodent Brush Day and Night Campaign which assists millions of Nigerian families to adopt the best oral health practices.
Oral diseases are the most common diseases worldwide despite the fact that many of them are easily preventable through brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, yet statistics show that 59% of Nigerians do not brush day and night. In addition to the fact that many people cannot afford dental care, there are only 4125 registered dentists which are a ratio of about 40,000 people to 1 dentist.
Mrs. Saraki, special guest of honour at the celebration noted: “All around the world, oral health is often – shamefully – treated as an afterthought to more pressing urgent and physical health needs. For those fortunate enough to have health insurance, dental cover is an ancillary premium, not a fundamental component of holistic health.”
“Social determinants such as poverty, lack of education, unsanitary cleaning conditions, alongside the prevalence of tobacco and harmful alcohol use have created a global trend in which oral and dental infection is so common, it is not given the urgent attention that it demands.”
“We must foster health-seeking behavior in our people, and this will only be achieved by ensuring a complementary, cross-functional conversation between the health system, the policy-making bodies, and the community itself. Initiatives like the ones held today, in which 1,500 children received a lecture on oral hygiene which empowered them to take the Pepsodent Smile Pledge, can foster a revolutionary new understanding – and appreciation – of how special it truly is to smile.”
The event observed annually on 20th March is set aside globally to celebrate the benefits and impact of having good oral hygiene. This year’s event with the theme: “Live, Mouth Smart” brought together over 1500 children from various schools in Lagos, and stakeholders presenting an avenue to sensitize Nigerians on the need to brush twice daily in order to maintain better oral hygiene.
Highlights of the event, also attended by Nigeria's Honorable Minister of State For Health Dr Osagie Ehanire, Lagos State Health Commissioner Dr. Jide Idris, Directors of the Lagos State Primary Education Board and Universal Education Board, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, and the World Health Association WHO, included the Smile Pledge taken by every participant's, Student Quiz on Oral Health, Oral Hygiene Lecture delivered by Dr. Bode Ijarogbe, Executive President Nigerian Dental Association, dance competition and unveiling of the little brush/big brush campaign, which aims to reach 10 million children by 2020.