Health & hygiene

This work supports the following UN Sustainable Development Goals

  • Good Health and Wellbeing
  • Partnership For The Goals

Improving oral health

Every smile matters, so we’re on a mission to improve oral health across the globe by promoting a simple but effective message: brush day and night.

Boy with toothbrush and toothpaste

Fighting tooth decay is vital

According to the Global Burden of Disease Study in 2016, it’s estimated that oral diseases affect half of the world’s population – 3.58 billion people – with tooth decay being cited as the most common.1 This might seem like a minor complaint, but it can have a big knock-on effect on health, well-being and productivity.

Toothache is the number one reason for children missing school in many countries. But it’s not just their education that suffers. Poor oral hygiene can lead to long-term health issues and life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease.

The solution is simple: brushing teeth regularly with fluoride toothpaste reduces the occurrence of cavities by 90% compared to not brushing teeth at all.

A smiling future is our goal

At Smile, we believe that every smile matters.

For over 25 years, Smile, our oral care masterbrand, has been on a mission to encourage good brushing habits through school programmes and free dental check-ups, partnering with dentists and schools to teach children how to brush day and night. Smile encompasses all of our oral care brands: Signal; Pepsodent; Mentadent; Aim; and P/S. Through our Smile brands, we are contributing to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3, Good Health & Well-being and 17, Partnerships for the Goals. Specifically, we are contributing to target 3.4 on reducing premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment.

We aim to reach as many people as possible with our brush day and night message. This way, we can unlock the power of a healthy smile for millions, enabling people to live a happier, healthier and more fulfilled life.

Stronger teeth means stronger markets for our toothpaste

An estimated 3 billion people don’t brush their teeth twice a day. Most use less than half the toothpaste dentists recommend for brushing properly. And 1 billion or more don’t use fluoride toothpaste at all.

That’s a lot of people we can help – and a big prospective market for our oral health brands. Worldwide, we’ve reached 83.5 million people, vastly exceeding our original target of 50 million by 2020.


Visit to the dentist

Working with 1 million dentists worldwide

Children are an important focus for Signal because research shows that learning good brushing habits at a young age can ingrain these habits for a lifetime. In addition, by educating children we have an opportunity to reach their parents, families and communities as the kids we teach become ambassadors for good oral hygiene.

Since 2005, Signal has partnered with the FDI (World Dental Federation), an independent organisation representing over 1 million dentists, on our Brush Day and Night campaign.

The fun and engaging school programme encourages behaviour change over 21 days. Why 21 days? Because that’s how long something needs to be practised for it to become a habit. This is the theory behind our Five Levers for Change (PDF | 4MB).

We give the children practical tools, like a 21-day calendar with stickers, to keep track of their toothbrushing – and their parents’ toothbrushing too. The programme has been successful in increasing brushing behaviour by 25%. And our school programme materials are publicly available online so that anyone can get involved in teaching kids good brushing habits for life.

Signal also partners with the FDI on World Oral Health Day, 20 March, each year to drive awareness and promote oral health. We run online campaigns, pledges to Brush Day & Night, mass toothbrushing and singing events.

This work supports the following UN Sustainable Development Goals

  • Good Health and Wellbeing)
  • Partnership For The Goals)

Using digital to get kids excited about brushing

Little Brush Big Brush is our free interactive behaviour change game to get children excited about brushing their teeth. Launched at the end of 2016, Little Brush Big Brush is now being used in homes across 16 markets.

Packed with entertaining animal characters, the game unfolds in a series of daily episodes delivered via Facebook messenger, text or audio messages. Children must complete their nightly brushing challenge to unlock the next episode of the story – every day for 21 days.

Little big brush


3D-Kids Mint

Every Pepsodent teaches children dental hygiene

The importance of teaching good oral hygiene habits early in life can’t be overlooked. In Indonesia, at least seven in ten children suffer from cavities.

Our Pepsodent School programme has brought good brushing habits to around 18 million students during 68,000 school visits since 1994. Each time someone brushes their teeth using Pepsodent toothpaste, they are supporting this programme.

As well as teaching children how to brush well and to brush day and night, the programme also offers free dental checkups and community schemes, which reach more than 2 million people annually.

But good oral health habits aren’t just for children; adults get toothache and pain from time to time too. So we have partnered with the Indonesian Dental Association to create the Pepsodent Dental Expert Centre. This is Indonesia’s first and only completely free oral health “edutainment” centre. Established in 2013, and packed with advanced facilities, it’s a place where experienced dentists and dental health educators can jointly care for people’s teeth.

Since opening, the Pepsodent Dental Expert Centre has had around 25,000 individual visitors per year and 117 visits from elementary schools and universities. It has also led a dental study club involving 300 dentists from 30 cities across Indonesia.

This work supports the following UN Sustainable Development Goals

  • Good Health and Wellbeing)
  • Partnership For The Goals)

The power of retail partnerships

By partnering with retailers, we’re able to touch even more lives and strengthen our relationships with customers. In Hungary, for example, a significant number of children have bad teeth because they are not taught oral hygiene from an early age. Our Signal team wanted to tackle this issue and in 2016 launched a campaign, the Smiling Teeth Programme, with DM drug stores across the country. So far, the programme has helped to educate more than 10,000 children aged 6-8, and their families, at home and in schools, on toothbrushing and oral hygiene.

1World Health Organization

Back to top

Connect with us

We're always looking to connect with those who share an interest in a sustainable future.

Contact us

Get in touch with Unilever and specialist teams in our headquarters, or find contacts around the world.

Contact us