Lunes, Pebrero 6, 2012

Dental health for improved well-being of Filipinos

Of all the health concerns that catch the average Filipino’s attention one way or another, dental health is arguably his or her least prioritized. Studies reveal that Filipinos, especially children, have been negligent in terms of dental care. The 2006 National Oral Health Survey (NOHS) revealed that 97.1% of six-year-old children suffer from tooth decay. More than four out of every five children of this subgroup manifested symptoms of dentinogenic infection.
About 78.4% of twelve-year-old children suffer from dental caries and 49.7% of the same age group manifested symptoms of dentinogenic infections. Clearly, Filipinos are experiencing the discomfort of having gum diseases early in their childhood. According to NOHS, 74% of twelve-year-old children suffer from gingivitis. Dental caries (tooth decay) and periodontal diseases (gum diseases) are the two most common oral health diseases affecting the Filipinos. 92% Filipinos are suffering from dental caries while 78 % has gum disease, according to the Department of Health.
These diseases, though not life-threatening, could hamper physical and mental performances as they weaken the body’s defense and could also serve as entry point of infectious and dangerious microorganisms like bacteria and virus. Aside from this, oral illnesses could very much affect one’s emotional and psychological well-being. Poor dental habits could lead to unsightly teeth and gums, and could cause speech abnormalities. Overall, poor oral hygiene could actually affect one’s confidence level in personal and inter-personal dealings.
Pain from untreated dental diseases can lead to eating, sleeping, speaking, and learning problems in children and adolescents, which affect child’s social interactions, school achievement, general health, and quality of life. Rampant dental caries in children adversely affect the overall nutrition necessary for the growth of the body specifically body weight and height. That begins with the first bite and chewing the food efficiently. (
With the silent yet growing concern of health care professionals as well as the government regarding dental health among Filipinos, the National Dental Month, through Presidential Proclamation No. 559, has been observed every month of February, an extended version of the one-week Dental Health observation prior to the Proclamation.  
Such an observance aims to strengthen public awareness on the importance of the good oral health. It also encourages dentists, students, relevant government agencies, and professional organizations to reach out to more people with no access to dental services, especially those who are in countryside. The Department of Health, national government agencies, and local government units, together with non-government organizations like the Philippine Dental Association are in the forefront in the promotion of healthy teeth and gums.

This year’s National Dental Month theme is “Ngiting Matatamis Ngiping Malilinis, Dala ay Pag – asa Tunay na Ligaya”, and it spells out the importance of having healthy teeth and gums in attaining a wonderfully-lived life. 

As the DOH put it concisely: “Oral Health is fundamental to overall health, well being and quality of life. A healthy mouth enables people to eat, speak and socialise without pain, discomfort or embarrassment.”

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