‘Oral health care vital for the elderly’

National 2 minutes, 11 seconds


SENIOR citizens should take advantage of widely accessible dental care offered by hospitals and health centres in the sultanate and not limit themselves to check-ups only when deteriorating teeth need to be pulled.

Prosthodontist Dr Farha Hanina Maidi emphasised this as part of a community outreach briefing on Tuesday at the Learning Development Centre of the Suri Seri Begawan Hospital (SSBH).

As the life expectancy of males and females in Brunei is expected to extend to 78 and 79 respectively over the next 15 to 20 years, Dr Farha said that dental care and maintenance amongst those over 60 needed to increase for them to avoid diseases and enjoy a higher quality of life.

“The trend (of the ageing population) isn’t just local but global. The World Health Organization estimates by 2050 that over two billion of the world’s population will be over 60,” she said while pointing to a 2011 national census showing that 5.7 per cent of the current population was over 60.

Generally, Dr Farha said that anyone experiencing things such as loose or sensitive teeth, difficulty tasting, chewing or swallowing, pain or bleeding in the mouth and any lumps or swelling should go to their nearest health centre.

“Oral health is one of the indicators of overall health but is often overlooked as being less important,” she said.

When plaque accumulates on one's teeth and its growth isn’t interrupted, it slowly destroys the outer layer of the teeth, beginning the early stages of tooth decay.

If ignored, nerves inside the tooth can become damaged with abscesses potentially forming, requiring a root canal or pulling of the tooth.

At the same time, she said plaque can also attach and slide under the gum, causing it to be infected, which is commonly known as gingivitis.

If left unchecked, the condition attacks the roots of the teeth, causing an infection which can eventually lead to periodontal disease, leaving the patient with bleeding gums, loosened teeth and at a high risk for other serious health problems.

Fortunately, preventing one’s oral health from descending out of control requires only a simple but consistent routine.

“Apart from regular check-ups, ensuring your oral health is in fact not very hard to achieve. Simple steps such as regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste and dental floss twice a day will take care of things and go a long way,” she said.

Those present at the talk also had the opportunity to have their teeth checked out by the dental section of SSBH. Tuesday’s event is part of an ongoing healthy lifestyle programme aimed at senior citizens organised by the Health Promotion Centre and SSBH.

The Brunei Times