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05.10.2004 Health

Ghanaians must adopt proper oral health practices - Survey

By GNA

Accra, Oct. 5, GNA - An oral health status survey conducted by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in 10 towns has revealed that a huge percentage of the population has poor oral hygiene. The survey, which involved towns including Dodowa, Nkwanta and Akwatia all in the Eastern Region and Obuasi in the Ashanti Region, revealed that more than 95 per cent of children had very poor oral hygiene.

"This led to the extractions of their teeth at very early stages of their lives and clearly shows the poor status of oral health in Ghana," Dr David Opong-Mensah, Head of the Oral Health Unit, GHS, said. Dr Opong-Mensah, who was speaking at the monthly health promotion of the GHS, called for a review of the Oral Health Policy and the reformulation of strategies that would help provide best oral health care for all.

He said though the Government was working on ensuring quality health care, the need to integrate oral health services at all levels of care was necessary.

"Oral health programmes must be intensified in schools to educate and encourage school children on the need to practice good oral hygiene."

Dr Opong-Mensah said though most people had dental problems they did not seek treatment until they developed complication that led to extraction.

"Until they experience any pain most people do not see the need to visit a Dentist," he said.

He attributed the current state of poor oral health to limited dental facilities, coupled with the acute shortage of dental health personnel.

Dr Opong-Mensah recommended the training of more dental health personnel, while intensifying oral health promotion and ensuring increased budget allocation for oral health.

Dr Constance Addo Yobo, Co-ordinator, Oral Outreach Programme, GHS, cautioned the public against excessive sugar intake and said refined sugar combined with bacteria in the mouth, produced acids that gradually softened the enamel of the teeth, resulting in tooth decay.

She said the use fluoride toothpaste and local chewing sticks as well as drinking fluoridated water were recommended practices of preventing tooth decay.

She said due to the poor nature of oral hygiene among rural communities, the GHS had to deal with a large backlog of oral diseases during its outreach services.

Dr Addo Yobo urged the public to make dental care an integral part of their lives and said a yearly visit to the dentist was important to prevent dental complications.

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