‘WORLD ORAL HEALTH DAY’
Prof. Arshad Mahmood Malik
Regent International College Of Dentists, Pakistan Chapter
Principal/ Dean HBS Dental College, Islamabad
Our mouth is like a mirror to our body that reflects its general health and well-being, having the ability to reveal nutritional deficiencies and signs of other diseases. Maintaining a healthy mouth is crucial to keeping it functioning correctly and for maintaining overall health and quality of life. Oral diseases can impact every aspect of life, from personal relationships and self-confidence to school or work, to even enjoying food. It’s never too early or too late to start looking after your mouth; your body will definitely thank you. So it’s safe to say that, ‘Oral Health’ is much more than just a nice smile.
World Oral Health Day (WOHD) is celebrated globally on 20th March, each year, accompanied by a wide range of activities to raise awareness of the importance of oral health, celebrate the benefits of a healthy mouth, help reduce the burden of oral diseases and to promote worldwide health related issues.
“Say Ahh”, a phrase commonly used by dentists while examining their patients, is the theme announced by FDI for years 2018-2020.
“Say Ahh- Think Mouth, Thick Health”, the first theme in line for year 2018, gives the notion of mouth serving as a reflection of body’s health and invites people to think about this connection. According to a survey, 90% of the world’s population will suffer from oral diseases in their lifetime and many of them can be avoided with increased governmental & health association, society support & funding for prevention, detection and treatment programs.
Pakistan is facing enormous oral health and socio-political challenges due to inadequate health services to address the needs of the population. A survey from World Fact-book (2012) showed that the health and social sector of Pakistan is one of the most neglected sectors in the country due to various geo-political factors. The poor, the rural population, women and children are generally the ones ignored at the hands of these health care sectors. With only 2% GDP spent on health sector, the resources are scarce. This is the main reason behind shifting of majority of the medical practices from public to private sectors that too are not tightly regulated for quality nor questioned for being overly expensive.
Quackery is another dilemma. Smiles being ruined rather buttered at the cost of mere pennies without any regulatory body acting promptly, is a major step back in improving living standards of the people and eliminating exploitation.
Periodontal disease and Oral cancer are the first and second most common diseases found in Pakistan respectively. A study found use of areca nut in 74% of primary school children in Pakistan. Cultural acceptances combined with cheap availability of such products are the reasons for prevalence of this habit, which is one of the major causes of Oral Cancer.
In order to address the oral health related problems of the country, emphasis needs to be given to improve the social and economic conditions of the people. Secondly, we need to develop an oral public health policy that can provide a roadmap to navigate all the resources to where they are needed the most. Functioning regulatory body to monitor false dental practice and to take prompt action is a dire need.
The Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC) needs to drop its prejudice, so that trained public health specialists can jump in to help improve oral health of the people. Also, we need to realize the importance of a separate Dental Council for not only better functioning but also implementation of Dental Health related issues. The foundation of Pakistan Dental Council will ensure that right people are putting their utmost efforts into the right area.
Scientific record keeping and data collection at public and private dental setups should be encouraged to measure the highs and lows. A muscular role needs to be played by our government at federal, provincial and local levels to first and foremost allocate dentists in areas where there is no treatment facility and distribute manpower suitably among the population. Quality resources should be made available to these dentists so that the population may be benefited.
Furthermore, regulation of betel quid and areca nut sales by increasing taxation or completely banning the products will be highly implausible.