BAU: Oral health problems should not be taken for granted, seeing that toothache has been reported as the number one reason for absenteeism from school in many countries.
Around 60 to 90% of students worldwide suffer dental caries attributed to high sugar consumption, poor nutrition or poor oral hygiene.
“Very often, these (problems) are mainly due to ignorance, which may in turn is attributable to poor education and lack of information,” said Assistant Public Health Minister Datuk Dr Jerip Susil at the launch of World Oral Health Day (WOHD) at Bau Civic Centre yesterday.
While a research by Health Ministry showed an improved status of oral health among school children, oral diseases are still prevalent among younger children and adults.
The WOHD, declared by the Federation Dentaire International (FDI) on March 20 last year, is an international day to celebrate the benefits of a healthy mouth and to promote worldwide awareness of issues surrounding oral health and the importance of looking after one’s oral hygiene.
“WOHD hopes to increase the number of people in the world who never have oral health issues to over 10% of the world’s population,” said Dr Jerip.
Themed “Celebrating Healthy Smile” this year, organising chairman John Ting said another goal was also to encourage individuals, families, communities and governments take action and help reduce the global burden of the oral disease.
So far, Sarawakians in both city and rural areas, have been generally depending on services provided Health Ministry when it comes to oral health.
“The ministry managed to increase the placement of dental officers including dental experts in the state to 244 in 2013, which is an increase of 41% (year-on-year),” Dr Jerip said, adding that it had placed oral surgeons at Sarikei Hospital, orthodontic specialist in Miri and Sibu as well as a restorative dentist in Kuching.
“Specific groups are targeted for the oral health care services in Sarawak. I’m happy to say that the Dalat Dental Clinic in Mukah will be servicing outpatients everyday.
“Around 96% of clinics in Sarawak have at least two permanent officers to provide dental services to local outpatients.
“Malaysia’s National Oral Health Plan for 2011-2020 includes preventing 50% of children aged six, 70% of students aged 12 and 50% of students aged 16 from getting caries on every teeth.
“It also aims for 100% of adults aged 35-44 to retain some original teeth, and 60% of adults aged 60 and above to have at least 20 original teeth,” said Dr Jerip.
Following the launch yesterday, the Oral Health Month would run throughout April.
“I wish all dentists nationwide all the best in their endeavour to promote healthy smiles to all Malaysians,” said Dr Jerip.
Official sponsors for the nationwide campaign are Listerine and The Wrigley Company (M) Sdn Bhd.