Studies have shown that 60% of primary school children in South Africa have tooth decay, and 80% of the tooth decay remains untreated (1-3)

Tooth decay can have a real impact on the quality of a child’s life.

Cavities cause pain and decay can lead to absences from school and poorer performance – children with recent toothaches are four times as likely to do poorly in school in comparison with their pain-free peers.

Left untreated, tooth decay can result in difficulties eating and sleeping and may even impact child growth.

How to help prevent tooth decay 

  • Help your children get into the habit of brushing their teeth morning and night.
  • Educating children about good oral health at an early age helps to build good brushing habits for life, helping in the fight against tooth decay.
  • Limit sugar intake to minimise the risk of tooth decay.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for prevention and treatment.

Related: Did you floss your teeth today?

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Oral health education is key

As a part of the newly launched National Schools Hygiene and Sanitation Programme, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education, Mentadent P as a part of Unilever, is teaching children the importance of brushing their teeth twice daily to prevent tooth decay.

This 21-day behaviour change programme will be rolled out in over 15 000 public primary schools across South Africa, reaching over 1 million children every year of the next five years.

This year, on World Oral Health Day (20 March), Mentadent P invites you to join them on their epic mission to banish tooth decay for good. All you need to do is take a selfie of your smile, tag your teeth with #EverySmileMatters and #BrushBrush and we’ll donate a Mentadent P toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste to a child in need.


  1. Molete M, Chola L, Hofman K. ‘Costs of a school-based dental mobile service in South Africa’. BMC Health Services Research 2016;16(1):590, doi:10.1186/s12913-016-1827-2.
  2. Mothupi KA, Nqcobo CB, Yengopal V. ‘Prevalence of Early Childhood Caries Among Preschool Children in Johannesburg, South Africa’. Journal of Dentistry for Children 2016;83(2):83-7
  3. Thekiso M, Yengopal V, Rudolph M, Bhayat A. ‘Caries status among children in the West Rand District of Gauteng Province, South Africa’. South African Dental Journal 2012;67(7):318-20.

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.