| Message from Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Zulkarnain bin Haji Hanafi, Minister of Health in conjunction with World Oral Health Day |
THE World Oral Health Day (WOHD) this year carries the theme ‘Live MOUTH SMART’.
Brunei Darussalam together with 130 other countries will join World Dental Federation (FDI) today in celebration of WOHD and will give further reason for the public to smile and live mouth smart.
‘Live MOUTH SMART’ empowers people to take control of their oral health, so they can enjoy a healthy, functional mouth from childhood into old age.
This theme builds on the ‘Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body’ message of WOHD 2016, which aims to transform people’s perception of oral health from indifference to one they really care about.
The 2017 campaign takes this concept forward in two ways: first, by emphasising that the mouth is essential for gestures people take for granted such as chewing, talking and smiling; and secondly, by highlighting that oral health has a positive impact on general health and well-being, helping one live a better quality of life into old age.
Despite advances in oral health, tooth decay has become one of the most prevalent diseases worldwide, affecting billions of people in their day-to-day lives and having a significant impact on healthcare systems.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that each year, millions of work and school days are lost due to poor oral health, which can have an adverse effect on economic and social impact on individuals.
In Brunei Darussalam, on average a five-year-old child has four decayed/missing/filled teeth while a 12-year-old child has one decayed/missing/filled tooth.
Meanwhile, the report from the Brunei Darussalam’s Integrated Health Screening of Civil Servants 2007 to 2010 stated a high number of untreated tooth decay (59 per cent) amongst adults aged 18 to 24 years.
It is well noted that oral health and overall health are closely related – primarily due to the common risk factors between them – and should be considered holistically.
These factors include unhealthy diet from sugary foods and drinks, smoking or use of tobacco and other cancer causing substances, and excessive alcohol consumption.
These risks are shared across oral disease and other non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.
Early prevention from getting tooth decay, gum disease and certain oral cancers can be done by avoiding the above-mentioned risk factors and adhering to proper oral healthcare by brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes with toothpaste containing 1,100-1,450 part per million (ppm) fluoride, limiting sweet food and drinks as much as possible, and having regular dental check-ups once a year or as advised by your dental healthcare professional.
The most effective way to reduce dental decay in the population is to implement community water fluoridation which uses the protective influence of fluoride.
Over 60 years of research in more than 200 scientific studies, from many parts of the world has proven conclusively that fluoridation of public water supplies is responsible for dramatically improving the oral health status of the population who receives the fluoridated water.
Water fluoridation reduces tooth decay over a lifetime by 20 per cent to 40 per cent and reduces the percentage of persons who are without natural teeth.
This improvement in oral health status from water fluoridation has also been seen in Brunei Darussalam based on The Brunei National Oral Health Survey (1999) and 2015-2017.
What is important here is that oral health diseases are preventable and living mouth smart is the way to go. With this in mind, I call upon our clients – the local community that each and every one of us has a role to play in taking care of our oral health.
Echoing this year’s theme, the Ministry of Health (MoH) will continue to give its full support to the theme as it strongly supports the MoH’s three strategic priorities that is to make health everyone’s business, to enhance quality of service delivery, and to prevent and control non-communicable diseases.
On that note, we are committed to working together with relevant stakeholders to strengthen all oral health programmes and activities conducted in the country, through an active involvement as well as shared responsibility and commitment of all levels of the community including individuals towards enhancing the oral health of our nation.
Again, only by inculcating good oral health habits and self-empowerment for our own oral health from an early age, would we have a nation of healthy mouth and smiles.
As the popular saying goes, ‘Prevention is better than Cure.”