MoH message for oral health day

National 4 minutes, 48 seconds

BRUNEI Darussalam together with 130 other countries across the world will join FDI World Dental Federation to celebrate World Oral Health Day on March 20, 2016 with the theme ‘Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body’.

A healthy mouth is an essential and integral component of general health and quality of life. It enables people to eat, speak and socialise without pain, discomfort or embarrassment.

In spite of this, most people still do not consider oral diseases to be serious health problems nor ‘worth’ investing their time and money, since they are usually neither life-threatening nor severely debilitating.

Despite advances in oral health, tooth decay has become one of the most prevalent diseases worldwide, affecting billions of people in their day-to-day lives and having a significant impact on healthcare systems.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that each year, millions of work and school days are lost due to poor oral health, which can have an adverse effect on economic and social impact on individuals.

Treating oral disease can be extremely costly and in children, this can have a negative effect on their successes later in life.

In 2012, the WHO reported that 60 per cent to 90 per cent of schoolchildren have experienced tooth decay; 15 per cent to 20 per cent of middle-aged (35 to 44 years) adults had severe periodontal (gum) disease; and 30 per cent of adults aged between 65 to 74 years old have lost all their natural teeth either due to tooth decay or gum disease.

In Brunei Darussalam, data from School Dental Services Division, Department of Dental Services, Ministry of Health, stated that on average, a five-year-old child has four decayed/missing/filled teeth, while a 12-year-old child has one decayed/missing/filled tooth.

Meanwhile, the report from the Brunei Darussalam’s Integrated Health Screening of Civil Servants 2007 to 2010 stated a high number of untreated tooth decay (59 per cent) among adults aged 18 to 24 years old.

Alhamdulillah, the Ministry of Health has embarked on the children phase of the National Oral Health Survey 2015-2017 and later this year, the implementation of the adult phase of the Survey.

The survey results will provide a better and updated indication of the status of the nation’s oral health, which enables planners and policy-makers to plan strategically and improve on the services provided.

Working together in partnership with other stakeholders, we can achieve one of the targets of the Ministry of Health for Brunei Vision 2035 that on average, a five-year-old child has one decayed/missing/filled tooth while a 12-year-old child has zero decayed/missing/filled teeth.

The theme, ‘Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body’, aims to educate and step up the awareness in people to emphasise that good oral health goes beyond having a nice smile, as it is fundamentally intertwined with the overall physical health and well-being.

The theme is relevant to us in Brunei Darussalam as it strongly supports the Ministry of Health’s three strategic priorities: to make health everyone’s business, to enhance quality of service delivery, and to prevent and control non-communicable diseases.

Undoubtedly, good oral health care and hygiene must start in everyone, even before a baby is born.

Studies have shown that pregnant mothers with poor oral health and hygiene can pose a risk to their unborn child.

Meanwhile, parental preference in infant feeding, such as breastfeeding and bottle feeding, can implicate their children’s oral and overall health differently.

It has been proven that bottle feeding causes tooth decay and poor teeth arrangement in early childhood and hence, breastfeeding remains the best and recommended infant feeding.

Education is important for parents and for all in making better choices and decisions – We all must look after our oral health and hygiene.

Oral health and overall health are closely related – primarily due to the common risk factors between them – and should be considered holistically. Common risk factors including unhealthy diet (diets high in sugary foods and drinks), smoking or use of tobacco and other cancer causing substances, and excessive alcohol consumption are shared risks across oral disease and other non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. In the case of diabetes, gum disease is considered as another complication of this disease.

Early prevention from getting tooth decay, gum disease and certain oral cancers can be done by avoiding the above-mentioned risk factors and adhering to proper oral health care by tooth brushing twice a day for two minutes with toothpaste containing 1,100-1,450 part per million (ppm) fluoride, limiting sweet food and drinks to meal times and having regular dental check-up once a year or as advised by your dentist/dental nurse.

Limiting exposure to the sun, avoiding smoking and reducing your risk of infection with Human Papillomavirus (HPV) will also help prevent these oral diseases.

The Department of Dental Services, Ministry of Health strives to enhance the quality of service delivery which is effective, efficient, responsive, affordable, equitable and accessible to all in the country, with an emphasis on oral health promotion and disease prevention.

We are committed to working together with stakeholders and strengthen the oral health programmes such as antenatal programme and Toddlers, Fluoride Varnish and Rolling Toothpaste Programme which target expectant and post-natal mothers as well as parents/carers of children under five years; and Daily Fluoridated Tooth Brushing Programme in primary schools.

On that note, the Ministry of Health is looking forward to the continued strong support and active involvement by the various stakeholders as well as shared responsibility and commitment of all levels of the community including individuals towards enhancing the oral health of our nation. Let us make health, including oral health, everyone’s business. Together, we will realise Brunei Vision 2035 in achieving the highest quality of life.

Message by Health Minister Yang Berhormat Dato Paduka Dr Zulkarnain Hj Hanafi on the occasion of World Oral Health Day 2016.