Rebecca Ejifoma
With the magnitude of oral health diseases arising daily in both children and adults, Unilever Nigeria Plc, in partnership with the Nigeria Dental Association (NDA) has pledged to reach 10 million Nigerian children this year in its fight against various oral diseases in line with the aim of World Oral Health Day celebrated on March 28.

Its resolve is following research that 90 per cent of the world’s population is said to suffer from preventable oral health disease.

Speaking at a briefing in Lagos, the President, NDA, Dr. Olabode Ijarogbe, explained that WOHD was meant to remind everyone that healthy teeth, gums and mouth generally play a crucial role in their ability to relate, work or study without constant nagging and painful toothache, as this boosts self confidence.

According to him, the theme if the campaign: ‘It all begins here; healthy mouth, healthy smiles’ reminds “us that the mouth is an integral part of the body, as such systematic problems will not only manifest in the mouth but that poor oral health can also predispose to systemic problems,” he said.

Still forging with numerous plans to combat oral issues in Nigeria, NDA has lined up activities including: brush day and night campaign to reach over 2, 000 primary school pupils in Lagos, health awareness walk from Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idiaraba to Jibowu bus-stop and dental outreaches to rural communities like Badagry and Ikorodu.

There will also be varieties of dental awareness programmes embarked upon by many of the state chapters of NDA with the grand finale on March 18 at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos.

Sadly, Ijarogbe decried that dental caries and periodontal diseases are the most common chronic dental cases worldwide affecting children, adults and elderly. And this results in great impact on the wellbeing, daily performance and treatment costs.

“Dental caries and other oral diseases are largely preventable by simple, proven and effective measures. However, even simple things like daily oral hygiene using fluoridated toothpaste are not yet a common practice everywhere and for all,” he said.

The dental expert explained that healthy smiles and the ability to eat without pain or discomfort are critical to general health and wellbeing. He said that treatable oral disease left unchecked can lead to major negative health consequences.

The dental profession believes that good oral health is essential but lamented that appropriate services were not available to many people in low-income communities. While periodontal and dental caries are the two major oral health problems with maligned teeth, dental fluorosis and oral cancers following suit, the NDA boss suggests a need for the development of sustainable strategies for national preventive and therapeutic oral health services to cope with the magnitude of oral health challenges in Nigeria.

In its fight against the horrific scourge, Ijarogbe lauded the Dentistry Division of the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja under Dr. Adebimpe Odebiyi, adding that, the formula of national oral health policy, if painstakingly implemented will sustainably improve the oral health status of Nigerians.

Meanwhile, the Brand Building Vice President, Unilever, Mr. Robert De-Vreede emphasised that if everyone brushed in the day and night daily, then oral health issues will be defeated. “Take oral health as a very important part of your body. And that is why we have decided to reach 10 million children in the campaign in Nigeria.”

De-Vreede affirmed that if one does not have good oral condition, food digestion may not go well. “That is why we have set out to target 10 million children in Nigeria.”