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All smiles for children’s oral hygiene program in China

February 5, 2020

The Smile Around the World program taught basic oral hygiene practices to over 3,000 elementary schoolchildren in China. The program was a booming success, so 3M and its partners plan to bring it to other communities in the future.

Smiling Chinese children holding bags with oral hygiene products.

It’s been said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

3M Oral Care put that proverb into practice by launching the Smile Around the World (SAW) program, an educational initiative that taught Chinese schoolchildren preventive oral health measures.

In partnership with FDI World Dental Federation (FDI) and the Chinese Stomatological Association, the program sought to increase oral health knowledge and skills among students, while teachers were provided with talking points on oral disease prevention.

None of this is coincidental, according to Eric Wenzel, 3M Oral Care Global Business Director — Restoratives. “If you look at our vision, it’s to promote lifelong oral health. Working with different organizations and associations around the world like we did in this program helps us live that vision.”

“If you look at our vision, it’s to promote lifelong oral health. Working with different organizations and associations around the world…helps us live that vision.”

– Eric Wenzel, 3M Oral Care Global Business Director

The SAW program involved well over 3,000 elementary schoolchildren and 90 teachers in the Chinese provinces of Ningxia, Yunnan and Shaanxi, along with 115 volunteer oral health professionals.

Jerry Spartz, 3M Oral Care Global Business Team Leader, explains: “We chose China for two reasons. One, there is a real need there. They have a large, emerging middle class that can benefit from education. Two, our 3M China colleagues were as enthused about the program as we were.”

Initially developed by FDI, the SAW program was designed to teach good oral hygiene to young children who have limited access to oral health care, through cultural and educational programs that are engaging and entertaining.

Program activities included:

  • Dentists and teachers using teeth models to demonstrate proper toothbrushing techniques to children
  • Children practicing toothbrushing in groups and checking each other’s results using a “Healthy Smile Happy Smile” booklet
  • Children sharing the seven steps to healthy teeth with their parents, as homework
  • Children drawing their image of an ideal smile

Grin-worthy results

After the program was completed, 99.1% of children said they believed it is very important to brush their teeth every day, and the number of children who said they were brushing their teeth twice daily increased by 20%.1

“We are thrilled with the success of SAW in China and the leading role children played in this initiative,” says Dr. Kathryn Kell, FDI President. “Thanks to the support provided by 3M and working with our member organization the Chinese Stomatological Association, we were able to raise oral health awareness among 3,614 children in western China. We look forward to educating even more children in 2019 and extending the reach of World Oral Health Day, so that together we can help lead the world to optimal oral health.”

Mitsi O’Neill, Global Scientific Affairs, 3M Oral Health and Prevention, is equally enthused about the prospects for the future.

“What I liked most is that it really demonstrates how good connections around the world can help 3M have an impact globally. Our community extends beyond the areas in which we live.”

Mitsi O’Neill, Global Scientific Affairs, 3M Oral Health and Prevention

1 https://www.fdiworlddental.org/sites/default/files/media/documents/fdi_smile_around_the_world-2018_ china-project_report.pdf


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