June 18, 2009

NDA endorses close -up new campaign

By  Princewill Ekwujuru
The Nigerian Dental Association has   thrown its weight behind the new close up campaign, “day + night brushing” initiative unveiled recently in Lagos.

The initiative, which will involve visits to schools and communities across the country kicked off at St. Paul nursery and primary school, Oduduwa Crescent, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos, on Monday, June 1, 2009.  During the visit, there were free dental checks and general enlightenment on proper oral care and the need to brush day + night.

Speaking on this development at the media launch held earlier in Lagos, the president of the Nigerian Dental Association, Prof Niyi Olusile, announced the body’s support for the initiative. He explained that oral hygiene is an integral part of our total wellness and that its neglect exposes us to the risk of various diseases.

“This brush day + night. initiative campaign will go a long way in helping people to avert both the immediate and future dangers inherent in poor oral hygiene”.

More importantly, Olusile noted that the Nigerian Dental Association is particularly in support of the method of involving both the parents and the children brushing together day and night. “It is a proven fact that children do what they see adults do. On this premise it becomes easy for the children to learn and imbibe the habit of good oral hygiene through this campaign strategy” he said.

In recent years, the global distribution of dental caries (tooth decay) presents a varied picture; most of the countries, including Nigeria, with low caries prevalence are experiencing an unprecedented increase in caries prevalence and severity of dental caries.

Facts have surfaced from studies compiled by Nigerian Dentists that there is an increasing trend of dental caries among adolescents in Nigeria. This might have been a result of social trends in Nigeria with the availability of sweets and confectionaries to all classes of people in the country. In addition to this, poor knowledge of and usage of preventative and restorative oral health care services may be contributory to the current trend.

It was also found that the dentist to population ratio is quite low, about 2 dentists to 100,000 people, over 83.5% of all the children in research carried out in Rural and suburban Nigeria had never visited the dentist despite the fact that most of them believed it was necessary to visit the dentist and that the percentage of the population that brush twice or more a day is about 45%.

All these point to the conclusion that oral health education programmes need to be designed which will target children, and by association their parents ensuring that they brush two times a day to prevent dental caries, improve their oral health and self confidence in general. This should also afford them the opportunity to get free checks by dentists who would further educate them about proper health care habits.

Impact of poor oral health conditions include sick hours missed from school, economic impact of doctors bills and man hours lost from illness. Individual’s social activities are also affected.

According to the Category Manager, Oral Care, Unilever Nigeria Plc, Onome Odili, the new initiative is aimed at not only educating the public on the dangers and ills of poor oral health, but will also ensure that through the schools program and community activations, the ‘Brush Day + Night “message will reach over 500,000 people across the country in its first year.

The Nigeria Dental association together with Close up Brand will visit the 6 geo political zones of the federation to cover the rural communities. The Social Mission initiative will run over a period of time at the end of which it is believed that a substantial proportion of Nigerian Parents and children will be reached and change in oral hygiene behavior will have been established.