Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 September 2019

Abu Dhabi launches new dental hygiene campaign

Initiative comes as dentist reports some patients have never heard of toothbrushes

One Abu Dhabi dentist reported as many as 40 per cent of their patients had never used a toothbrush. Getty Images
One Abu Dhabi dentist reported as many as 40 per cent of their patients had never used a toothbrush. Getty Images

Health officials in Abu Dhabi are urging the public to take better care of their teeth as part of a wider strategy to improve dental hygiene.

The health campaigns come as specialists reported as many as 40 per cent of their patients had never used a toothbrush or even heard of toothpaste.

Other shocking stories ­included a 22-year-old patient whose teeth were so decayed that they all had to be ­extracted.

Another sufferer dabbed petrol on his gums in an effort to numb his toothache.

Dr Jamal Al Naqbi, of the Abu Dhabi Centre for Public Health, said increasing awareness of the importance of oral hygiene was vital to people’s well-being.

“The services are already there but we are looking to enhance them,” he said.

“They’re available and free of charge but people are too busy and don’t feel the need to go to a dentist which is why we need to increase awareness. They only visit when they’re in pain.”

According to the World Health Organisation, oral and dental diseases are some of the fastest growing non-viral illnesses worldwide.

Under Abu Dhabi’s new policy, doctors as well as dentists will be asked to conduct rudimentary oral health checks on young children up to the age of six.

According to figures from the emirates’ Department of Health, more than 85,000 cases of gum disease were diagnosed in adults in 2017. About 134,000 cases of tooth decay were recorded in the same ­category.

One dentist who works in the government sector but who did not want to be named, said gum disease and tooth decay were worrying problems.

She said some of her patients believed that just rinsing with water was enough.

“Forty per cent of my patients have never used a toothbrush and the remainder brush their teeth only when they are ­coming for an appointment,” she said.

“It’s a cycle with the parents never brushing their teeth so their children don’t either. Many don’t even know what toothpaste is.

“I have had a 22-year-old whose teeth were so damaged that we had to have them all ­extracted.

“We see horror stories like one patient putting petrol on a piece of cotton and biting down on it because he had tooth pain.

“People need to visit their dentist every six months and parents need to teach their children to brush their teeth.”

Abu Dhabi Health Authority said the new campaign would focus on four important areas: developing a new system for oral healthcare services; enhancing community awareness of the importance of preventive care and oral hygiene; promoting research-based projects in the field; and effective planning to ensure the provision of oral healthcare services.

Dr Sujay Mohan Rai, medical director at NMC Royal Medical Centre, said only 60 per cent of his patients brushed their teeth regularly.

“There is a lack of awareness,” he said.

“The younger generation know what brushing is but don’t know how important and valuable it is.

“There should be more ­public awareness; awareness in schools, in the media and

so on.”

Updated: July 2, 2019 07:29 PM

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