Almost a third of children in Ghana missed school last year due to preventable oral pain, a global study on the impact of oral health on children's lives, a report has stated.
The study, commissioned by Pepsodent, revealed that 3 in 10 (29%) children representing an equivalent to 3 million children did not attend school because of oral pain.
The report further revealed that on average, children with oral pain missed 9 days of school within the year with those attending school more likely to opt-out of activities at school because of bad teeth.
“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 said.
Whilst most children surveyed – and their parents – 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 higher incidence of oral pain.
The research was conducted among children aged 6-17 years old and their parents, in 8 countries: Chile, Egypt, France, Italy, Indonesia, US, Ghana and Vietnam.
Dr. Esi Fuaba Afful Member of the Ghana Dental Association, sharing the details of the study with journalists ahead of the commemoration of the Oral Health Day, today 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 with its accompanying educational and 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 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.
Dr. Paapa Puplampu, Vice President, Ghana Dental Association, said with the study findings dentists can now prove the impact of oral care on a child's confidence and sense of self-worth on a global scale.
“This refreshed, more compelling messaging could drive real behaviour change around prevention, in turn reducing the current alarming levels of tooth decay and oral pain,” he stressed.
Patience Oforiwa Mpereh, Oral care Category Manager, said Unilever's brands have been working on prevention through free dental check-ups and school programmes for 25 years, so that they can spread outstanding oral health across the globe and unlock the power of as many smiles as possible.
“So far, they 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.