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Dental health on the GCC’s radar screen
By Mariecar Jara-Puyod February 05, 2016
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DUBAI: The state of dental care and oral hygiene across the GCC will be determined by the cooperation between and among government agencies.

Parents and elders must also be made aware as well as be encouraged to teach their children how to take care of their teeth, in order to prevent dental caries or tooth decay.

“We need the support of the government, all of us working together. The GCC has become an open market. There are a lot of sweets available,” Kuwait Ministry of Health (MoH)-School Oral Health Programme officer Dr Fotooh Al Ali told The Gulf Today on Thursday.

She mentioned that Kuwait has its National School Oral Health Programme covering  kindergarten to grade 9 students.

Al Ali stated that educational campaigns are still necessary even as a 2014 survey had revealed that the number of tooth decay cases among school children in her country had dwindled.

She said: “The children are afraid of dental caries, but they still want to eat sweets. There are too many sweets in homes and in the Gulf.”

Al Ali implied more work has to be done with regard to controls on the availability of such foodstuffs on the market: “We need the support of the decision-makers.”

Interviewed, Saudi Arabia Ministry of National Guard-School Dental Prevention Programme director Dr Abeer Al Subait said: “Government and schools are doing their part. But homes play a greater role in teaching children about brushing their teeth.”

She agreed with this reporter that children, young as they are, must be taught to brush their teeth, when at school or wherever.

“It is the reason we are giving them their [dental kits] as gifts in our awareness programmes in our schools,” Al Subait said.

Asked about the reason for the low dental care and oral hygiene among children, she said: “They are made to believe that their teeth are temporary and would just fall off anyway.”

Al Subait expressed hope that the kingdom’s initiative on regular mobile clinics in schools throughout the academic year is adopted across the region.

Both public servants were delegates at the Feb. 2-4 “20th UAE International Dental Conference & Arab Dental Exhibition” held at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

They were in a consultative meeting with their counterparts from the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar chaired by Gulf Cooperattion Council Ministers of Health Council scientific consultant Prof Abdullah Al Shammery on Thursday.

Interviewed, Al Shammery said the Annual GCC Oral Health Prevention Committee Meeting from Friday has two agendas.

These revolve around the preventive programmes needed to be pursued in the region in order to improve the residents’ oral health condition.

“We also have to study and monitor these preventive programmes annually so that we know how far we are going,” the Riyadh Colleges of Dentistry & Pharmacy (Saudi Arabia) rector said.

Asked about the guidelines the group was initially discussing prior to the start of the meeting, Al Shammery said they were about preventive dentistry measures for school children of ages 6 to 12.

“We have the March 24-30 Oral Health Week every year. Now, we want to adopt more measures to prevent dental caries. We are already using the Bits & Sealant (matter used by dentists to cover the affected teeth) in all GCC. But there is a variation on the number of children covered,” he said.

The annual committee meeting is in accordance to the GCC National Preventive Oral Health Strategic Plan for 2008 to 2020.

On Thursday, concerns about sugars and sweet foodstuffs were raised a number of times specifically by Bahrain MOH-Oral & Dental Sciences chief Taghreed Omran Ajoor and Saudi Arabia M-H-Dental Services director Dr Mohammed Al Rafee.
 

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