The Kenya Dental Association (KDA) has called on all Kenyans to observe proper oral hygiene to keep oral diseases at bay.
The KDA Chairman Dr. Andrew Wetende revealed that more than a third of Kenya’s adult population suffers from dental caries, also known as tooth decay as they do not pay proper attention to oral hygiene.
Speaking during an event to mark the World Oral Health Day in Kajiado on Wednesday, Wetende noted that consumption of sugary foods and drinks and inadequate use of fluoridated toothpaste, water, salt and milk were some of the risk factors that promote the spread of dental diseases.
He said oral diseases were preventable through proper self-care, regular dental check-ups and managing risk factors and urged Kenyans to brush their teeth at least twice a day-in the morning and before going to bed as a first line-defense against oral diseases.
Wetende further noted that the repercussions of poor dental care are severe and include severe gum infections pain as well as degraded school performance.
According to statistics from the 2015 Kenya Oral Health Survey, only 43 per cent of Kenyans brushed their teeth once a day, nine per cent brushed their teeth barely two to six times per week, and four per cent said they had never brushed their teeth.
About a quarter of the population said they avoid smiling because of bad teeth.
Pawan Marella, the Beauty and Personal Care Director at Unilever East Africa, revealed that Unilever had embarked on a program to teach behavior change among school going children in order to instill and drive good oral hygiene habits early in life.
He added Unilever has made a big stride towards making oral care affordable and accessible to most Kenyans by launching Pepsodent toothpaste and toothbrush in retail outlets all over Kenya at an affordable price.
“Poor oral health not only damages children’s teeth, but it can also lower their self-esteem and affect their performance in school. We have also issued 25 million worth of samples to schools in various towns all over Kenya in a bid to break barriers of awareness and access,” he said.
Marella said WOHD is a global awareness campaign aimed at raising awareness on the importance of oral hygiene, adding that most Kenyans have never been assessed for oral diseases.
This is because the country has a dentist population of about 1,000 for a population of 42 million people, giving a dentist-to-population ratio of 1:42,000. “The World Health Organization recommends 1:7, 000,” Marella said.
During the event more than 200 pupils at Kajiado Township Primary School had their teeth examined, filled and others extracted by doctors from KDA. They were also given Pepsodent tooth paste and tooth brushes from Unilever.
The pupils were shown how to brush their teeth with prioritization of prevention over treatment of oral diseases emphasized.
By Rop Janet