Know Your OQ: Colgate's Oral Care Quotient Connects Mouth With Overall Health


In February, 2022, Colgate-Palmolive launched its “Know Your OQ” campaign.

What’s an OQ? You can think of it as an oral health measurement akin to IQ for cognitive intelligence and EQ for emotional intelligence.

The heart of “Know Your OQ” is a quiz found at, which also contains lots of info on how consumers can improve their oral hygiene – and thus their overall health.

Pharma & Marketing Insider spoke with Dr. Maria Ryan, Colgate-Palmolive's chief clinical officer for an update on the program -- and the global oral health care crisis.

The following Q&A has been edited for space and clarity.

Pharma & Health Insider: It’s been almost two years since “Know Your OQ” launched. How’s it progressing?

Dr. Maria Ryan: We’ve gotten great feedback from consumers that they’ve learned a lot taking the test and about their appreciation for the importance of oral health. It actually did change their knowledge, attitudes and practices.

Pharma & Health Insider: We took the quiz and got eight out of 10 questions correct. How does that compare with the typical OQ?

Dr. Ryan: The average is 56%, and we get a 34% increase in their knowledge when they retake the test. Then they get 90%.

Pharma & Health Insider: How do you drive people to the quiz?

Dr. Ryan: Oral health literacy is very, very low, so we need to get the message out. We have partners like Costco using a QR code in stores to share the message.

We have a show, “Getting to Know Your OQ,” on LinkedIn and YouTube where experts from throughout the world, whether in government, cardiologists, nurses or other clinicians, talk about how important it is to share the message. 

Pharma & Health Insider: What is the desired outcome after people take the quiz or watch the show?

Dr. Ryan: That they understand that 50% of people throughout the world carry cavities and gum disease and that needs to be managed or prevented. If not, it can increase risk for many other conditions.

Removal of infection and inflammation is not an option or elective. It needs to be done. If it were anywhere else in the body -- if you have pus oozing out of your arms -- you are treated. But, unless they're in pain, they usually won’t come [to the dentist]. The point is to start early intervention, have greater prevention, and then reduce those numbers.

Pharma & Health Insider: Considering the connection between oral health and overall health, don’t healthcare providers besides dentists need to be involved in all this?

Dr. Ryan: If you’re a physician and have a patient with both diabetes and untreated periodontal disease, you can’t control their diabetes very well.

If you have somebody at risk for cardiovascular disease who has untreated gum disease, the risk for a heart attack goes up two-fold and the risk for stroke three-fold.

Suddenly, the oral health status of a person becomes very important to those healthcare workers.

Unfortunately, many schools for healthcare professionals, whether medical, nursing, pharmacy, you name it, don’t give much training with regards to oral health.

Pharma & Health Insider: How can you help fix the situation.

Dr. Ryan: We’ve reached out to talk with other healthcare providers. “Getting to Know your OQ” brings those people to the table.

We’re working with a program that has been created to bring oral health into the nursing curriculum.

Physicians now that have programs where they are engaging with other community care workers -- physician assistants, nurse practitioners -- to share this oral health message.

Pharma & Health Insider: What’s next for “Know Your OQ”?

Dr. Ryan: Oral health literacy is really, really low, and, as the leader in oral care, it’s imperative that we share the message. “Know Your OQ” is educational, not an advertisement for our products.

We’re beginning to translate “Know Your OQ” into different languages, starting with Spanish and Portuguese.

We are initiating a program to push out “Know Your OQ” through, probably one of the most visited websites for people who have oral health issues. Various sites within Colgate have global exposure.

People have come back with [requests like] “Can you make me videos to see how I’m supposed to brush my teeth?” So we’re creating this next level.

We’ve joined the World Economic Forum’s Global Health Equity Network. We’re creating a white paper with the best world economists that will highlight the impact of oral health on the world’s economy.

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