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Rising cases of oral diseases associated with AIDS, cancer

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Oral hygeine

With the rising cases of oral diseases in Nigeria, dentists have said it may increase the risk of heart attack, diabetes, cancer, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), stroke and other health problems, if not addressed urgently.

The various body of dentists in Nigeria disclosed this during the commemoration of the 2019 World Oral Health Day at the Federal Medical Centre, Ebutte Meta, Lagos, themed: ‘Say Ahh: Act on Mouth Health’.

The World Oral Health Day, celebrated on March 20 every year, as declared by the FDI World Dental Federation, is a global oral health campaign that serves as a platform for the public, oral health community and policy makers to help address and reduce the global oral diseases burden, which contributes a major public health challenge and also integrate oral health into policies that address other diseases.

According to FDI World dental Federation, oral diseases affects at least 3.58 billion people globally, as 2.4 billion people suffer from caries of permanent teeth and 486 million children suffer from caries of primary teeth.

Speaking to The Guardian, the President of the Nigerian Dental Association, Dr. Eshikena Evelyn, said the burden of oral diseases remain significant and widespread, with dental caries of permanent teeth the most prevalent of all oral conditions accessed.

She noted that the challenges facing oral health in Nigeria is enormous, as most people will be affected by preventable oral diseases, including dental caries and gingivitis in their lifetime as well as periodontal disease, congenital malformations such as cleft lip and palate; head and neck tumor and oral cancer among other diseases.

Evelyn maintained that the mouth is a window into what goes on in the rest of the body, noting that an unhealthy mouth, especially in the presence of gum disease may increase the risk of serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, poorly controlled diabetes and preterm labour.

Also speaking, the Head of Department, Dental Services, Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Ebutte Meta, Lagos, Dr. Obiora Chinwuba, said ignorance, traditional and home remedies as well as self-medications have contributed to the large number of serious preventable oral and general health problems, which would have been picked up early by dentist.

“When dental caries start from little holes, it begins to pain a person. They result to taking battery acids, petrol in their mouth, crushes paracetamol and place it in that part they have the pain. Eventually the pain progresses and then causes headache, severe pain, gum bleeding, bad breathe among others. These are wrong actions, which they should come to the dentist for immediate treatment.,” he added.

Meanwhile, Consultant, Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon, Dr Emeka Christian said Nigeria has being battling with dental care, which is not fully developed, adding that people in the rural areas, who are not exposed to oral health education and unaware of healthy mouth practices suffer from these oral diseases.

He said as part of measures to address the problem, the dental department of the Federal Medical Centre, Ebutte Meta, Lagos provided free dental services to people in the market places and the communities around the hospital’s environs.

Also, a Consultant Dental Surgeon, Dr Celestine Uyanwanne criticised the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), which places oral health in secondary care, noting that the government should integrate oral health into primary health care programmes across the nation and establish dental clinic in each local government area.

These, he said, will be of immense benefit to the teaming population of Nigeria and also help ensure that oral healthcare with the Basic Package of Oral Care (BPOC), as enshrined in the Nigerian Oral Health Policy is accessible to the grassroots, as more education and awareness is brought to the people.

He further said that there should be provision of oral healthcare at maternal and child centres, which will bring about the prevention of dental related complications among pregnant women, nursing mothers and the children.


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