Dental Hygienists providing relief to Thalassemia patients


KARACHI- About 3% of the world population i.e 150 million have beta major thalassemia gene.

Thalassemia represents a group of genetically inherited disorders with a variable degree of severity in hemoglobin synthesis. The most common form is beta thalassemia classified as Thalassemia minor and Thalassemia major, found exclusively in children, becomes symptomatic during the initial years of life. Decreased hemoglobin level and excessive destruction of ineffective red blood cells in the spleen necessitate a routine blood transfusion.

With respect to Children’s Oral Health Month A Free Dental Checkup was conducted by Dental Hygienist Assciation Pakistan (DHAP) on 13th February 2015 at “Kashif Iqbal Thalassemia Care Center”. Team of seven dental hygienists, namely: Amir, Ume Farwa, Sidra Maqsood, Saeeda, Sumer, Rubab and Madiha Sabbir carried out the extra-oral and intra-oral diagnosis of around 60 patients.

The objective of this visit was to serve the under-served, increase the awareness of dental hygiene and hygienists. Most of the patients were from the areas where dental care is mostly inaccessible. A detailed lecture on Oral hygiene instructions, brushing technique and methods to prevent oral diseases was delivered. Free Samples of Shield Toothpaste And Tooth Brushes were distributed among children.

The children and their parents were guided how hygienic oral condition could improve their quality of life and their over all health. The serious anemic condition of patients suffering from Thalessemia leaves them weak and pale, that makes them too lazy to clean their teeth, resulting in High DMFT index and poor oral hygiene.

High DMFT index suggests the need for restorative treatments, but care may only be sought at a later stage when decay is advanced. Parents of the children were advised for regular dental checkups, so that the cavity or carious lesion are timely detected and corrected at a very early stage. That could improve  the quality of life of the patients suffering from Thalassemia.

Preventive dental care is the basic requirement of all the Thalassemic patients. Unfortunately, extraction is the consequence of late presentation to dental care. Less teeth and painful bite leading to a compromised quality of life. Dental care for Thalassemic patients should be delivered as a co-ordinated team approach, ensuring close liaison between the dentist, the hematologists, the dental hygienists and where appropriate, the paediatrician.

Hence, Thalassemia is a hereditary disease. The incidence of this genetic disease is correspondingly high in most Arab countries; for example 5-10% of the population as a whole carries the gene for Thalassemia. There is a need to increase awareness and genetic counseling among the general population about the disease.
Dental Hygienist Association Pakistan will continue to plan activities regarding awareness on critical issues related to health and plans to work in collaboration with different welfare organizations working for the benefit of the under-served segments.

Kashif Iqbal Thalassemia Care Center is a specialized welfare institution, with remarkable efforts made by its co operative team and doctors. In an exclusive talk with Dental News, the President DHAP – Anum Abdullah said that; Mostly patients, parents and even doctors are not aware of thalassemia intermedia and due to that, many intermedia patients are misdiagnosed and bound to be tagged as Thalassemia Major. They are unnecessarily forced to get transfusion just like Thalassemia Major patients.

Replying to a question, Anum Abdullah said that; Dental Hygienist Asscoiation Pakistan is working for Thalassemia patients and indeed it is a great pleasure to know that so many NGOs and welfare societies are working tirelessly for patients all over Pakistan. Being a patient myself, I think supporting the cause and generating funds for these needy patients is our humble contribution to the Thalassemia community.

February 18, 2015

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