By Chioma Obinna & Damilola Akingbade
Medical experts have decried the 90 percent reported cases of untreated dental carries (tooth decays) among Nigerian children, saying the only panacea is to introduce good oral health to children at early stage of their lives.
Statistic available have shown that there is a prevalence of about 6.5 to 22.5 percent of dental carries in children and over 95.6 percent of early childhood carries are untreated in Nigeria.
To this end, Unilever Nigeria Limited, makers of Pepsodent toothpaste, in collaboration with Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Dental Association, NDA, had flagged off a campaign tagged: ‘brush day and night campaign’ aimed at catching the children young.
Speaking at the flag off of the campaign, which hosted over 1,500 school children in Lagos to mark this year’s WOHD, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Khaliru Alhassan, said the theme of this year’s celebration, ‘Smile For Life’ has a double meaning, ‘lifelong smile’ and ‘celebrating life’, and the aim is to wish everybody lifelong healthy smiles at all ages.
Alhassan explained further that the mouth is the gateway and mirror to the body and as such, Nigerians must take a paradigm shift from limiting dentistry to only the treatment of diseased teeth and care of the mouth.
“I am pleased with today’s event which showcases the dividends of stakeholders’ participation and has put Nigeria on the world map through the smile pledge taken by about 1,500 children to brush day and night aimed at a cavity free Nigeria,” he said.
Oh his part, Vice President Marketing, Unilever Nigeria, Mr Robbert deVreede said the event was a way of giving back to the Nigerian public.“We have set a global ambition to reach 100 million children by 2020 and 10 million of them are coming from Nigeria. In effect, the number we aiming to reach in Nigeria are the largest in Africa.
“We see the terrible picture if we don’t care for our mouth. So it is a step in the right direction that 1,500 children gathered today to pledge to brush day and night. We know that children have the future and can act as change agents to make their parents brush day and night. By the end of 2015, we would have reached one million children in Nigeria.
“The programme is tailored in such a way that children not only learn how to brush properly but also why it’s so important, information which they can then share with the rest of their family,” he said
Speaking, President of the Nigerian Dental Association, NDA, Dr. Olabode Ijarogbe, explained that the emphasis on children at the event was because children are more teachable and it is easier to imbibe the culture of oral health to children than adult.
Ijarogbe said the WOHD is important because 90 per cent of the world’s population will suffer from oral diseases in their lifetime, many of which can be avoided with increased governmental, health association and society and funding for prevention, detection and treatment programmes.