Dr. Lawrence Igbinosa is a Consultant, at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH, Edo State; he is also the Head of the Department of Oral Diagnosis and Radiology, University of Benin, UNIBEN, Edo State. In this exclusive interview with our Correspondent in Benin, Dr. Igbinosa shed light on the relevance of World Oral Health Day and the need for people to maintain good oral hygiene.
World Oral Health Day (20th March every year)
World Oral Health Day is a day set aside to mark oral health worldwide, a day to remind ourselves of the need to maintain a high standard of oral health. And it can also be said that it is a day the world unite to help reduce the burden of oral diseases, which affect individuals, health systems, and economies everywhere. The overall aim is to empower people with the relevant knowledge, tools, and confidence to secure good oral health. The theme for 2021 – 2023 Oral Health Day is “Be proud of your mouth”…Value & take care of your mouth… While that of the year 2020 was “Say Ahh: Unite for Mouth Health”.
What is oral health?
Oral health is the standard of health of the oral and related tissues which enables an individual to eat, speak and socialize without active disease, discomfort, or embarrassment and which contributes to the general well-being. It is of great importance to maintain good oral hygiene because it contributes to the general well-being of the body.
The significance of World Oral Health Day may be seen in the significance of oral and related tissues. The health of the teeth and mouth are linked to overall health and well-being in a number of ways. The ability to chew and swallow food is essential for obtaining the nutrients needed for good health. Poor dental health can adversely affect speech and self-esteem.
Dental diseases impose both financial and social burdens as treatment is costly and both children and adults may miss school or work because of dental pain and time spent on treatment. Some oral health problems include; Dental caries, Malocclusion, Traumatized teeth, Dental fluorosis, and Oral tumours.
How can one promote oral health?
One can promote oral health by practicing good oral hygiene: eg brushing twice daily, brushing with fluoride toothpaste, and visiting a dentist at least twice a year. Avoid the use of any tobacco products and limit alcoholic drinks.
Challenges of oral health in Nigeria
Some of the challenges of Oral Health in Nigeria are poor oral health awareness, poor accessibility to oral health services: Dental services are almost not available in PHCs (primary health centers), inadequate facilities at all levels, inadequate equipment and materials, low maintenance culture of available facilities and equipment and inadequate staff strength.
How can these challenges be addressed (expectations from government?)
Good oral health is the responsibility of individuals, communities, and governments, although their relative contributions vary. For example in some European countries and most African countries, like Nigeria, public water fluoridation is not yet implemented and so responsibility for preventing tooth decay lies largely with the individual.
Comprehensive oral health education programs for children, their parents, and teachers should be initiated. Dental services should be made available in PHCs while more health facilities and more equipment and materials should be provided. Improvement in the maintenance of available facilities and equipment employs more dentists, dental nurses, and other support staff.