By Madiha Shabbir
KARACHI – Children’s oral health is almost always neglected at an early stage of life and they are presented so late to a dentist that tooth extraction becomes the ultimate solution and which, if done at an early stage, could lead to mal-alignment. Teaching children about good oral hygiene can lead to lifelong healthy teeth. The situation of dental caries in Pakistan is such that 12-year DMFT is thought to be 1.38 according to 2004 estimate.
Periodontal disease is the most common oral disease in Pakistan. Less than 28% of 12 year old children have been found to have healthy gingiva. This indicates that our child population is suffering from poor oral health and requires appropriate oral care. Oral health education and promotion may be delivered at multiple forums such as hospitals, primary healthcare centers, private dental clinics as well as schools. Yet, schools remain the primary provision with most beneficial and positive outcomes demonstrating optimistic impacts on school-children.
With respect to celebrating children’s oral health month, Dental Hygienists Association Pakistan (DHAP) visited a school, THE SAA-e-BAN EDUCATORS at surjani town on 24th February 2015 with a team composed of 13 dental hygienists, namely: Amir, Goind, Tooba, Uzma, Imrana, Asra, Shaista, Sumer, Hafsa, Zarmeena, Ammara, Sidra and Madiha. Oral health diagnosis was conducted by the said hygienists. DMFT scores were recorded. Presentation on oral hygiene methods and proper oral hygiene care was illustrated to the students by Asra and shaista. Role of hygienists in preventing oral diseases was established among students. High caries index and deep pits and fissure were recorded. Free sampling of Shield tooth brushes was carried out. Children seemed quite content and happy after the entire checkup and hygiene instruction session. Children were told about nutrition tips and about how their hygienic condition could become better if they pay regular visits to dentists and/or dental hygienists.
Children were also made to know that tooth decay is preventable. Fluoride varnish can prevent about one third of decay in primary teeth. Applying dental sealants to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth is another way to preventing tooth decay. Studies in children show that sealants reduce decay in the permanent molars by about 81% for 2 years after having been placed on the tooth. Sealants continue to be effective for 4 years after placement. DHAP recommends that parents take their children to a dentist first year of their life and at intervals recommended by dentist. Parents should also continue to supervise their hygienic conditions. Emphasis on oral health and its promotion through educational programs are an important and integral part of dental health promotional policies by the Association which will continue to raise awareness, serve the masses who are deprived of oral hygiene aids.