Poor oral health among Bhutanese

Oral health among Bhutanese remains poor with an increasing number of dental caries or tooth decay cases. This is according to the preliminary report on National Oral Health Survey which was conducted last year. Health officials said the incidents of dental caries among young children and adults are more than 80 per cent at the World Oral Health Day celebration in Thimphu today. Officials attribute it to poor eating habits and flaws in brushing technique.

During the celebration, health officials demonstrated the proper technique for brushing to the students of Jigme Losel Primary School in Thimphu.

Officials also introduced the practice of post-lunch brushing and urged the schools to start the initiative.

“Oral health is all about taking care of our teeth and brushing. We used to brush twice a day but today, I came to know that we have to brush thrice a day,” said Riya Subba, a student of Jigme Losel Primary School.

“Oral health is about taking care of the parts of our mouth like gums, teeth and tongue. I take care of my oral hygiene by brushing twice a day and following all the ways of brushing,” said Choying Palden Tshering, another student.

Health officials said flaws in brushing technique, not using fluoridated toothpaste and eating food that contains high sugar can lead to tooth decay.

“Children aged five to six years have dental caries and the prevalence is more than 80 per cent. So, when they have dental caries in their milk teeth, it is definitely going to be transmitted to permanent teeth. If they lose their milk teeth, it’s fine. It will grow again but If permanent teeth are damaged, they are not going to grow back,” said Dr Gyan Prasad, Oral Medicine Specialist at the national referral hospital.

He added that oral and gum infections could often lead to other diseases.

“There are also other conditions like infective endocarditis. It is a heart disease that starts from the mouth. When there is an infection in the mouth, this can also affect your heart. Also, several studies show that gums problems, diabetes and hypertension are correlated. In Bhutan also, 50 per cent of our patients having diabetes or hypertension are somehow related to oral health problems,” added Dr Gyan Prasad.

Moreover, poor oral health can result in mouth cancer which is 90 per cent preventable. But Dr Gyan Prasad added that people visit the hospital at a later stage, delaying the detection and prevention of diseases.

According to health officials, there is a need to intensify awareness programmes and reduce junk and sugary food to address the issue of poor oral health, especially in schools.

Kinley Dem

Edited by Tshering Zam 

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