DUBAI // Thousands of school pupils will have their teeth tested as part of an extensive survey of children’s oral health habits.
Dentists and hygienists from Dubai Health Authority will check the teeth of 5,670 pupils aged 5, 12 and 15 in all public and private schools.
The data gathered will provide information on schoolchildren’s habits and attitudes to dental care, said Essa Al Maidoor, director general of the authority, which is conducting the survey in collaboration with the World Health Organisation .
“Once we collate and study this information, we will base our oral healthcare policies and preventive programmes in accordance with the results of the survey, to ensure we effectively help improve oral health behaviour among schoolchildren,” he said.
The WHO says tooth decay is the most chronic condition affecting children, of whom 60 to 90 per cent have cavities or decay.
Dr Tariq Khoory, director of dental services at DHA’s primary healthcare sector, said the survey would be of “critical importance” in encouraging oral hygiene at an early age.
“Often, oral health problems are neglected but parents and caregivers need to understand that common oral diseases such as dental caries [tooth decay] and periodontitis [severe gum disease] tend to cause pain and discomfort, leading to absenteeism and poor performance among pupils,” he said.
“Several factors, such as improved oral hygiene, a sensible approach to sugar consumption and school-based preventive programmes, are essential to reduce the problem of caries among schoolchildren.”
The programme will begin this week at Ahmed bin Rashid School in Al Muhaisnah and Anisaa Al Ansariyah School in Al Quoz.
The survey follows a warning by experts last week that more needs to be done to educate people about oral cancer.
Early detection is essential in preventing the potentially fatal disease, said Natheer Al Rawi, an associate professor of oral pathology at the University of Sharjah’s College of Dentistry.
Since two mobile dental buses were introduced last year, 1,800 people have been treated and screened.
The service is aimed at those in remote areas, the handicapped, the elderly and schoolchildren.