Why oral health needs more attention in PH

Adrianna Mejia
Oral-B and the UP Dental Alumni Association come together to promote oral wellness in the country with the launch of Smile Pilipinas last February 6, 2015

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – When you think about overall health, do you also consider oral health? Filipinos are known for their smiles despite tragedy and disaster, but what many do not know is that not all Filipinos are aware of how they can better take care of their teeth.

“Oral health is simply not a priority in the Philippines,” said Vic Medina, Dean of the UP College of Dentistry, during the launch of Smile Pilipinas last February 6 in UP Manila.

He added that according to the National Monitoring and Evaluation Dental Survey conducted by DOH in 2011, 87% of Filipinos suffer from tooth decay, or 83 million people in the Philippines based on the population of that year. “Statistics show that 77% or more than 7 out of 10 [of Filipinos] have never even been to a dentist.”

But another growing issue on oral health in the country is the lack of oral care among the youth. Studies show that 98% of children aged three to five have dental caries or cavities and that 20% of six-year-olds have never been to a dentist.

All of these can be prevented if only proper information and services are made available and more accessible to those who are not aware of how important oral health is.

WORKING TOGETHER. Dr. Jocelyn Tan stressed that if we all work together towards promoting oral health awareness, it will be achieved. All photos from Fuentes Manila

UP Dental Alumni Association (UPDAA) President and Smile Pilipinas CEO and President Dr. Jocelyn Tan said that statistics and research have shown alarming results that need to be addressed, but even as experts in oral health, they cannot do it alone. “We need the support and cooperation of everyone – the parents, the educators and ordinary citizens. And that’s the reason we launched Smile Pilipinas,” she said.

Smile Pilipinas and Oral-B

PARTNERS. Oral-B brand ambassador Ms. Iza Calzado (4th from left) graced the unveiling of the Smile Pilipinas campaign logo.  With her are (from left) Dr. Vicente Medina, chairman of the board of Smile Pilipinas Development Foundation, Inc.; JP de la Vega, vice chair of Smile Pilipinas; Dr. Jocelyn Tan, president and CEO of Smile Pilipinas; Mr. Shankar Viswanathan, general manager of Procter & Gamble Philippines; and Mr. Suranjan Magesvaran, Procter & Gamble vice president, Home Products, Power and Oral Care, Procter & Gamble Asia.

To kickoff the 100th year anniversary of the UP College of Dentistry, the UPDAA partners with Oral-B, the brand known worldwide for its commitment to promoting healthy smiles, to launch Smile Pilipinas.

Procter & Gamble Vice President for Home Products, Power and Oral Care, Asia, shared that this was a great opportunity for Oral-B. “This is a great opportunity for Oral-B to do something concrete about improving the quality of oral health in the Philippines,” he said.

FOR A CAUSE. Mr. Suranjan Magesvaran, Procter & Gamble vice president, Home Products, Power and Oral Care, Procter & Gamble Asia shares that this was an opportunity that P&G simply could not pass on.

With the objective to promote and improve oral health in the Philippines, Smile Pilipinas starts the conversation on why oral health is important. It is a movement with three focus areas namely Advocacy, Public Good and Fundraising.

They offer information and free dental services to both adults and children and encourage all Filipinos to take oral problems seriously and to take action to improve daily oral care habits.

They have reached out to young children through public health initiatives Unang Ngipin Patibayin and SuperSmileCon2015. 

Unang Ngipin Patibayin is in partnership with the local city governments of Pateros and Pasig to provide oral health education and preventive measure for parents and children, while the SuperSmileCon2015 is an oral wellness fair for kids offering free dental consultations, dental varnish application and dental health education.

Oral-B ambassador and actress Iza Calzado says that she is representing a brand that she truly believes in and expressed her utmost support for the campaign, as she is also very particular with oral hygiene. “Oral health is a vital part of overall health. It is part of our personality, our heritage as a Filipino,” she said.


WALK YOUR TALK. Iza Calzado shares that she's known to always have her toothbrush even during taping and is very meticulous when it comes to brushing.

She also stressed that Filipinos are known for their smiles and bayanihan attitude, which is why she’s confident that if everyone participates and takes the initiative to help, Smile Pilipinas will eventually reach their goals.

There’s a long way to go but with a lot of support, Smile Pilipinas can reach millions of Filipinos and educate them about how important it is to care for you teeth. Dr. Tan adds, “Oral health cannot be seen as separate from our total health and hygiene. If we all work together, we can bring oral health within reach of all Filipinos.” – Rappler.com

For more information, you can visit the Oral-B Philippines page.

Note: An earlier version of this article originally stated “83 billion people in the Philippines.” It has been corrected to “83 million people in the Philippines.” The changes have been reflected. We’re sorry for the error.