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SDS and Colgate pledge to transform attitudes towards oral health in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, December 2, 2017

THE Saudi Dental Society (SDS) and Colgate have joined forces to launch a series of far-reaching initiatives designed to significantly enhance oral healthcare habits across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

The ‘Pledge to Enhance Oral healthcare in KSA by 2023’ was unveiled during a special signing yesterday attended by representatives from SDS and Colgate. Comprising five key elements, the initiative is a five-year comprehensive strategy to dramatically challenge and positively impact attitudes and behavior towards oral healthcare in KSA through a series of wide-ranging programs.

Results from the latest research carried out by the Ministry of Health show that 88 percent of people had not visited a dentist in the last 12 months — the recommended minimum being a routine visit every six months. The major goal of this joint mission is to ensure that by 2023 at least a quarter of KSA citizens (25 percent) are routinely visiting their dentists.

“Lifestyles and dietary habits are constantly evolving and an increase in the consumption of sweetened food products and tobacco has resulted in a spike in oral diseases in the developing world. Oral health is directly impacted by lifestyle as increased sugar intake can cause dental caries, leading to cavities that could ultimately lead to tooth loss,” said Burc Cankat, vice president and general manager, North Africa Middle East Hub, Colgate, at the signing of the initiative yesterday.

“There is a pressing need for increased oral health promotion and reinforcing the message of the importance of oral healthcare and routine check-ups. Colgate is committed to enhancing oral health in the Kingdom. Through our strong partnership with the Saudi Dental Society we are confident of achieving the oral care goals outlined in our pledge to the citizens of KSA.”

Dr. Fahad AlShehri, president of the Saudi Dental Society, said: “Oral hygiene practices among Saudi citizens are not as regular as they should be and the awareness on prevention of oral diseases is limited. It is time to act, and we are confident that our initiative with the extensive outreach programs aligned to it as well as the support of the educators, parents and all concerned, will help achieve significantly improved attitudes and behavior towards oral health.”

Beginning in 2018, the initiative will see the SDS and Colgate maximize the ‘Oral Health Month’, an annual campaign, which runs between February and March, to facilitate free dental check-ups for Saudi citizens at dental clinics across the Kingdom. The goal is to make this facility for citizens accessible in more than a third of the dental clinics in the Kingdom by 2023. The Oral Health Month outreach activities and Oral Health Plaza, a consumer-focused three-day dental health Expo, will engage 10 million consumers in the importance of oral healthcare by 2023 — significantly higher than the 400,000 consumers who engaged with the 2017 Oral Health Month campaign.

Through the Colgate Bright Smiles Bright Futures program, the SDS and Colgate will together enlist the support of schoolteachers in raising oral healthcare awareness levels among schoolchildren aged five to nine years old. As part of the program, the SDS will train the teachers on how to motivate students to brush their teeth twice a day, with the 2023 goal to see the twice-daily brushing habit engrained in one-third of the target group, compared with the current average of 1 in 10.

The drive for improved oral health awareness will also target those with diabetes or who are at risk of the disease, providing educational pamphlets on the link between diabetes and oral health and the importance of good dental care in the fight against rising diabetes levels.

Meanwhile, the annual Saudi International Dental Convention (SIDC) — the largest dental convention in KSA that attracts more than 10,000 dentists and exhibitors — will put the spotlight on the latest innovations and technologies in oral healthcare.