Avoiding a mouthful of problems

PETALING JAYA: Bad oral health is not just about cavities and painful toothaches – it could lead to serious illnesses such as heart disease, clogged arteries and diabetes, an expert said.

Dentist Dr Koh Wen Thong said she is of the opinion that there is low awareness among Malaysians about the importance of oral health and the above consequences of neglecting the said aspect.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), poor oral hygiene can also lead to oral cancer due to factors such as tobacco, alcohol and areca nut.

The simplest act of brushing teeth at least twice daily and flossing once a day, Dr Koh said, could make a big difference.

“Awareness is low among Malaysians.

“They only see a dentist when they are already experiencing problems like pain or emergencies.

“If you wait until you are already in pain, it means it has become serious and you have to pay for expensive treatment,” she said.

Dr Koh said a regular check up twice a year would allow dentists to detect any issues in their early stages.

A normal check-up, even at private clinics, would only cost between RM20 and RM30. “If you have a very small cavity, you won’t feel pain. “When it’s big and you feel the pain, the tooth may have to be extracted,” she added.According to the Health Ministry’s data, almost 95% of Malaysians require dental treatment with tooth decay being a top problem.

Dr Koh said everyone must start taking care of their oral hygiene from a young age.

“For children, if we can detect problems such as mouth-breathing or severe crowding when they are seven to nine years old, we can correct such problems before they become more severe.”

”People usually miss out on flossing when it is actually very important,” she added.

Mohammad Abd Wahab, 41, said he has always encouraged his teenage daughter to take care of her oral hygiene.

He said he was delighted when she asked him for braces to fix her teeth.“Some of her teeth overlap, especially in the front, so she was a little self-conscious about it, said Mohammad, who took his 15-year-old girl to a private dentist for the process.

He spent about RM5,000 for the braces and consultation.

University student Ilman Firdaus, 20, who underwent root canal work recently, said he regretted not taking care of his teeth earlier on.

“I continued snacking and drinking sugary drinks.

“The root canal treatment was an eye opener.

“It was very painful and I never want to experience that again,” he said, adding that he brushes and flosses regularly now.

Checks on the Health Ministry website showed that a tooth extraction procedure would only cost RM1 for outpatients at government clinics while private clinics charge between RM80 and RM120.

While private clinics may charge between RM700 and RM1200 for surgical removal, government clinics only charge between RM15 and RM50 for such a procedure.

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oral health , Dr Koh Wen Thong , flossing


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