Yangon Post

Oral Care in Burma

Oral Care in Burma

And a toothbrush glass to help with yours!

I want to talk about tooth brushing.

You know when you go to the dentist, and they ask you how you’re getting on with your interdental brushing, and regardless of the truth you tell them that you do it every day. Twice. Love it. Ahhh so clean-feeling. While they dig around thinking yeahhhh no you obviously don’t. I’m a dentist… I can tell. But let’s just go with try and make sure you get to those molars at the back more often. A bit like when you were little and you definitely didn’t do that little drawing on the wall. Or eat a Club Bar 5 minutes before lunch. 

Anyway, chances are, A* interdental-brusher or not, your teeth are mostly in your mouth and have a dalliance with the toothpaste twice a day. 

In Burma, this is not such an easy assumption. Most children in rural areas have never brushed their teeth. Ever. Which would suggest that nobody has told them they should, or given them anything to brush them with. And even if the grownups do brush their teeth, lots of them grew up “using the forefinger with salt, ash, or a piece of charcoal as ‘toothpaste’. Sometimes a twig...” (as told by U Kyaw Win in his memoir, My Conscience: An Exile's Memoir of Burma). To add to the issue, 30% of adults chew betel nut all day which makes your teeth look like Dracula’s, and around the same amount smoke tobacco from as young as 12. 

As with most things, it boils down to education. If nobody has ever handed you a toothbrush, taught you about tooth decay, or explained exactly why Grandpa’s breath is so honky, then why would you brush your teeth? It wouldn’t cross your mind. 

Colgate came up with the most brilliant campaign around this back in 2014. They were one of the first brands to enter the market after the trade borders opened up in 2012, so were in a prime position to make an impact. They designed five bright, impactful graphics for the inside of the boxes they used to distribute products to pharmacies around the country. When unfolded, they became posters for classroom walls. Even better, there was a little toll-free phone number at the bottom which teachers could call and play a pre-recorded lesson to their class to go with the illustrations. So simple. I can’t find anything about whether the impact was measured, but you can’t fault the concept, and the illustrations are phenomenal.

Here's a video all about it:

Colgate Video

Colgate oral health poster myanmar

Colgate oral health poster myanmar

Colgate oral health poster myanmar

Colgate oral health poster myanmar

Colgate oral health poster myanmar


Anyway, we don't have any current plans to diversify into toothpaste, but I thought it was an interesting project, and top graphics, so worth sharing with you!

We do sell a dinky little toothbrush cup though:

Toothbrush Cup


Read more stories about Burma




Leave a comment