Dentists in Ghana are adopting new approaches to handling oral health after a research led by Pepsodent, a subsidiary of the Unilver company, which produces toothpaste, showed that children with poor oral health are less likely to perform and participate in class.
The research findings indicated that children with poor oral health do not just suffer bad breath, cavities and pain but also hidden damage as it is linked to lower self-esteem, affecting a child’s overall potential during education and beyond.
Dr. Edward Ohene Marfo, a dentist at SDA Hospital in Gbawe, at the General Annual Conference of the Ghana Dental Association (GDA), called for the involvement of all stakeholders including parents, teachers, dentists and the media to continuously educate the larger population to practice good oral health, especially among children to help them to realise their full potential.
He said dentists over the years, had focused on the pain of the child and the bad breathe caused by the cavities created, leaving out how it affected the child’s education.
Dr. Marfo said another shocking revelation of the research was that, tooth decay and related oral diseases in children are not the only health issue manifesting as bad breathe, discoloured teeth and pain, as it affected their relations with other colleagues.
He said the research showed that children with poor oral health were less likely to participate and perform in class, less likely to smile, less likely to enjoy being at school and they find it difficult to socialise with other pupils, hence making it harder for them to make friends.
Dr. Marfo said the research results have served as an eye opener and encouraged members of the Ghana Dental Association (GDA) to rethink the approach to helping young people to have healthy oral health.
“The most simple and effective way to prevent dental caries is to brush – brush with Pepsodent in the morning and in the evening, the last thing before going to bed. It is advisable to use Pepsodent tooth brush because it is soft or use any medium-bristled tooth brush, which is good for your teeth,” he said.
Dr. Marfo said when individuals do this very well and visit their dentists at least twice in a year, many people would be free from getting cavities.
Dr. Ama Amuasi, a member of GDA and a dentist at the Komfe Anokye Teaching Hospital, in an interview called on corporate institutions to help build dentistry clinics in every district, in oreder to provide access to many people, for visits to the dentist.
She said brushing the teeth was the easiest way of preventing dental caries because the four factors that cause tooth decay were the tooth, the oral bacterial, the food particles, and time.
She said the only factor that could be taken out was the food particles hidden in the teeth because none of the other factors could be controlled by humans and encouraged people to brush twice daily.
“When you don’t brush your teeth and you go to bed, it means that you’ve created a banquet for the bacteria in your mouth because they would have little bread, banku, chocolate to feed on whilst you are asleep,” Dr. Amuasi said.