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Oral-B and iADH launch the Big Rethink campaign for people with visible and invisible disabilities

Benjamin Binot is P&G's senior vice president for Europe for oral care. (Image: P&G)

A Europe-wide study conducted in 2021 and 2022 and commissioned by Oral-B, a brand of Procter & Gamble (P&G), has shown that 34% of people in Europe (166 million) are affected by a disability in some way and that 34% of those experienced gingival health issues in the past year. In the UK, France, Germany and Italy, 47% of people with disabilities have not been taught how to look after their oral health, and 20% of those with severe disabilities find it physically challenging to brush all their teeth. On the basis of these results, Oral-B and the International Association for Disability and Oral Health (iADH) recently launched the Big Rethink to make oral care more inclusive, accessible and positive. Regarding this initiative, Dental Tribune International spoke to P&G’s Benjamin Binot, who has been part of the company since 2002 and was appointed senior vice president for Europe for oral care in 2020.

Mr Binot, when we talked last year at the MWC Barcelona annual trade show, we discussed your goal of improving oral health for all. Your partnership with iADH and your joint project the Big Rethink is certainly a path towards success in achieving that goal. Could you tell us more about the Big Rethink?
At Oral-B, we have always believed that everyone deserves an equitable oral care experience, and since the launch of the brand in 1950, its mission has been to help adults and children alike to achieve healthier teeth and gingivae through home care. That’s why Oral-B has launched the Big Rethink. It is a social ambition campaign that aims to make oral care more inclusive, accessible, and positive for people with visible and invisible disabilities, as well as their caregivers and healthcare professionals. It was launched after we learned, in research commissioned by Oral-B, that a third of those with visible and invisible disabilities experience gingival health issues due to difficulty maintaining their oral health. For the Big Rethink campaign, we are working alongside iADH to help inform our approach.

The first step of the partnership was the launch in March of the Positive Practices programme to provide dental practices with educational materials to make their practices more inclusive. What is the feedback so far?
In partnership with iADH, the Positive Practices training programme is designed to train and educate dental practices on how to become more confident and inclusive when it comes to their patients. This programme involves:

  • training webinars focusing on inclusive language and how best to communicate with disabled patients—for example, a form which the patient can fill out prior to visiting the practice goes a long way to helping prepare staff at the practice for the patient’s needs;
  • video content developed by experts, including videos giving practical advice on how practices can provide a pre-treatment experience for patients;
  • materials focused on upskilling staff to become more confident in dealing with patients with disabilities; and
  • working with practices to help make their offices more accessible through accessories or equipment.

The journey has just begun, but the initial feedback from dental professionals who are helping us bring this to life are very excited to go on this journey together with us. We look forward to working with them to give their patients with disabilities the best treatment they can get and always tailored to their individual needs.

The Positive Practices programme also aims to give the disabled community the tools they need to have more autonomy over their own oral health via the Big Rethink Content Hub. What has been your experience so far? What have you learned to help you in making it the best resource for patients?
The Big Rethink Content Hub features more accessible, relevant and helpful content for people with disabilities, their caregivers and their families, as well as the professional dental health community. The content hub will continuously be expanded with educational resources and information for parents, consumers and professionals. There is so much we are still planning to work on to make oral care more accessible for people with disabilities, their caregivers and their families, and the professional dental health community.

IADH recognises that there are gaps in the education of healthcare professionals and critically in the training of the dental workforce to equip them with the skills and attitudes to provide quality care to people with disabilities, and so the training programme that we are jointly creating is an important step in addressing the gaps.

As we learned from the findings of the research, far too many people with disabilities are struggling, and by working together, we aim to make a positive difference to the oral care experience for people with visible and invisible disabilities. I believe that together we can achieve so much more and am delighted to be working on this project.

Dr Gustavo Molina, president of iADH, stated: “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel; we have to adapt what has already been developed to the needs of people with disabilities.” The programme will allow Oral-B to learn more about the needs of patients with various disabilities to adapt its product offerings. Someone with limited manual dexterity, for example, may find using any toothbrush challenging. Have you already considered adapting your electric toothbrushes or other ways of supporting oral healthcare for those with manual dexterity difficulties?
At P&G, we’re committed to creating a more inclusive world for every individual with visible and invisible disabilities. We recognise our immense responsibility to drive change and the opportunity making our company and products more accessible to everyone brings.

We’re making progress each day but recognise that we have work to do to make our company, brands, and services even more inclusive for people with disabilities. While we are at the beginning of our journey, we are working on several prototypes which we hope will improve the oral health experiences for those with visible and invisible disabilities. We are committed to learning more to fine-tune what we do with both professionals and consumers. That’s why we will be continuing to engage with members of the disabled community to have their stories shared and their voices heard on matters that will then help bring about positive change in oral care for everyone.

We are considering all possible solutions, including product changes. We want to first understand what the exact needs are so that we can offer the best products suited for the specific needs.

“At P&G, we’re committed to creating a more inclusive world for every individual with visible and invisible disabilities.”

There are numerous challenges regarding dental care for people with visible and invisible disabilities. For example, an autistic child or adult might need to feel safe and comfortable and be familiar with a visit to the dentist before undergoing treatment. How do you define and plan for the diversity of challenges to help as many people as possible? Have you focused on specific challenges or groups with specific disabilities?
We have not focused yet on a specific disability; however, we have started a pilot project with NaviLens at the German retail store dm-drogerie markt for visually impaired people, so we are also looking at meeting the specific needs of individuals. To do that, as mentioned before, we need to learn what those specific needs are to be able to meet them with the right solution.

We are working with iADH to ensure that everybody has an equitable oral care experience—whether at the dentist’s office, through easily accessible and personalised tips and tricks, or using home care products to maintain oral health. Our goal is to bring oral healthcare to everyone, and we want to be inclusive of people with all types of disabilities. One of the key benefits of working with the experts at iADH is that they have expertise in all types of disabilities. We will work together to transfer that knowledge meaningfully for achieving our mission.

In Barcelona, we talked about the benefits of influencers for marketing campaigns. Have you also considered influencers for promoting the Big Rethink?
Yes, and we have even started working with a very diverse cast of influencers—each of whom has a moving and inspiring story to tell. For example, at our two-day event in Kronberg in Germany where we launched the Big Rethink, four influencers from our squad were on-site and created a whole range of inspiring content for their followers. In addition, the well-known German actor André Dietz participated. His daughter has Angelman syndrome. During a panel discussion, he gave a vivid account of the daily struggle to brush her teeth.

It is stories like these that make us all realise how people with disabilities—as well as their parents or caregivers—might struggle to fulfil everyday activities and routines. It’s up to companies like us as well as dental professionals worldwide to offer the right type of support—from making brushing less complex to engaging with members of the disabled community to have their stories shared and their voices heard on matters that will help bring about positive change in oral care for everyone.

Editorial note:

More information about the Big Rethink can be found at www.oralb.co.uk/en-gb/big-rethink.

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