oral health
By Rebecca Ejiforma
In a bid to strengthen the teeth, protect against acid attacks and generally increase the oral health among the Nigerian population, experts have expressed the need for brushing twice each day using toothpaste with the presence of fluoride in it.
They said this was necessary because it pays more to prevent tooth cavities than experience the pain and nightmare associated with it.
Stating this during a joint campaign by Pepsodent Toothpaste and the Nigerian Dental Association in Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos recently, various experts harped on the need to tackle the scourge through personal hygiene, stakeholders involvement and government support.
According to the Commissioner for Health, Lagos State, Dr. Jide Idris, who represented the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, he said the efforts by the groups to raise awareness on the need for brushing twice daily was commendable, adding that the message be spread to all nooks and crannies of the State.
As at this January, the world’s population is estimated at 7, 373, 101, 345 billion and 90 per cent of this number is said suffer from preventable oral health disease. Hence, dentists in Lagos with producers of active toothpastes have caved out new means of reducing the spate of the scourge among children and adults in Lagos State.
Sadly, the President, Nigerian Dental Association, Dr Bode Ijarogbe, disclosed that 90 per cent of the world’s population, according to estimates, will suffer from oral disease in their lifetime and many of them can be avoided with increased government, health association and the society’s support and funding for prevention, detection and treatment programmes.
World Oral Health Report published by the World Health Organisation in 2003, explained that dental caries is still a major oral health problem in most industrialised countries, affecting 60 to 90 per cent of school children and the vast majority of adults, making it one of the commonest diseases in the world.
According to Ijarogbe, “Dental caries, commonly known as tooth decay or tooth cavities, occur when micro organisms in the mouth act on remnant food substances to produce acid which in turn attack the teeth, thereby, causing decay. Therefore, brushing twice daily is the ideal healthy practise.
“In 2014, we initiated the oral health school programme, which has so far educated directly 1.8 million Nigerian children on how to imbibe the culture of brushing twice daily,” he said.
He explained that this year, they will educate one million children directly on how to take care of their teeth by brushing day and night using fluoride toothpaste such as Pepsodent.
Continuing, he said, “we believe children are change agents. They have the pester power to influence their parents, siblings and people around them by telling them to take their oral health seriously by brushing day and night with fluoridated toothpaste such as Pepsodent triple action.
With the theme ‘It all starts here…Healthy mouth, Healthy body’, he charged the populace to cultivate consistent oral hygiene by brushing their teeth twice daily, as this represents a wall against the disease.
He assured the participants that with Pepsodent Triple Protection toothpaste, there was guaranteed protection against cavities, stains and bad breath.
He called on Nigerians to change their toothbrush every three months. “Do not share toothbrush. Your toothbrush should be medium or soft textured.  Clean all surfaces of your teeth thoroughly, at least for two minutes. Apply the brush horizontal to the surface of the teeth. Repeatedly, move the brush upwards and downwards ensuring both outer and inner surfaces of the teeth are brushed,” he noted.
According to him, people should try to make it a practice to brush twice daily before breakfast and the last thing at night before going to bed, stressing that this way, particles in between the teeth alongside stains will efface.
He also advised that dentists were consulted at least, once in six months. “Stubborn stains and plaque, known as calculus, are better removed by the dentist,” he explained.
On how to prevent it, he said the best way was by eating healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables and avoiding snacks and drinks that are high in sugar.
According to experts, holes in the teeth start as a brownish or darkish discolouration. After a while, it becomes a hole or a cavity and food tend to pack in the cavity after eating. This food can sometimes give out an offensive odour when it has stayed hidden in the cavity for several hours.
The NDA President explained that if the hole was not promptly treated, the tooth, thereafter, will become painful, causing inability to eat properly with the affected teeth. Adding that, the pain can sometimes cause headaches and serious discomfort.
Whenever there is a hole in the tooth, he believed the ideal step to take was to see a dentist who would usually fill the hole or manage it appropriately. “If this is not done, there is a chance to get bigger and more painful as it progresses. Don’t wait until you have a problem before you see a dentist. Help prevent problems before they happen by going to the dentist for regular checkups and cleaning every six months. This is one of the most important factors in maintaining good oral health. Regular checkups can prevent cavities, gum disease and other dental conditions,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Consultant Dentist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Dr. Daniel Gbujie, made a clarion call on government at all levels to invest in oral health.
Speaking to THISDAY, Gbujie said it was pricey to set up dental practices in Nigeria. “So, it is key that the government understands the idea of financing dental outlets to reduce out of-pocket-payment by patients.”