A new consumer survey amongst 1000 UAE residents has found almost 25 per cent plan to improve their oral health in 2015 by brushing their teeth more often, with 46 per cent of those surveyed listing dental cavities as their biggest oral healthcare concern.
The incidence of dental cavities in the UAE is one of the highest in the region and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 60-90 per cent of children worldwide experience dental cavities during their growing years.
Dr Mohammad Mansoor, Head of the Dubai Health Authority Pediatric Dentistry Department is leading a new movement in UAE’s oral healthcare landscape called the “Dental Home”. The dental home concept is defined as the on-going relationship between the dentist and the patient, inclusive of all aspects of oral health care delivered in a comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated and family- centered way. The dental home should begin no later than 1 year of age.
In the new consumer survey, conducted by the Wrigley’s Extra Oral Healthcare Program, 68 per cent of UAE residents said that they’ve learned their oral health care routine from their parents. With the dental home; a child’s dentist and parents work together to ensure the child’s oral healthcare and preventive dental education are managed. Lack of exposure to preventative dental education puts the individual at risk for dental diseases which could have been easily avoided if the right measures were taken from the start. Commenting on the survey findings, Dr Mansoor said, “Preventive dentistry is really the cornerstone of oral health, most experts agree that a tooth should outlive it host! Ideally you should have all your teeth till you’re gone. A preventative oral healthcare routine includes daily brushing, flossing at night, regular dental visits and chewing sugar free gum after eating and drinking.”
The consumer survey results illustrate the need for a paradigm shift on the way oral health is valued. Dr Mansoor continued, “A small cavity can be filled with a filling by a dentist. However, what people fail to realize is that there are long term unfavorable consequences to this. Studies show that a simple filling can survive only 10-20 years if done correctly, and then it will likely have to be replaced with a new one which will result in a bigger filling. This means a simple filling at age 8 could turn into a root canal at age 25 or even an extraction at age 40, especially if vigorous oral health measures were not followed.”
Establishing a dental home in every household provides parents with continuous access of information for their children about oral hygiene, oral development, fluoride use, oral habits and how to avoid dental trauma. This valuable knowledge will not only ensure healthy oral development for their children, but will also empower the parents to fulfill their responsibility in providing the best care possible for their kids through their growing years.
Under the umbrella of the Dental Home, dentists mentor and educate parents and their children to initiate effective and comprehensive oral health measures at home. A complete oral health care routine includes daily brushing after meal time, flossing at night, regular visits to the dentist, and chewing sugar free gum after eating and drinking for a clean, healthy mouth.
Dr Mansoor concluded, “Oral health education is scarce in our communities. The main contributing factors are the lack of dental knowledge, and children being seen by dentists at a late age. Therefore, establishing a dental home is crucial to educate the parents about oral health and initiate preventative treatment to their young children. Dental home is established upon the first visit of the child to the pediatric dentist before their 1st birthday. We believe that a child’s oral health is a window that reflects their overall health, so we encourage all parents to schedule dental appointments for their kids before their first birthday and initiate comprehensive oral health measure at home upon the eruption of the first baby tooth.”
Dr. Mohammad Mansoor is a Diplomate, American Board of Pediatric Dentistry, currently working in Dubai Health Authority as the Head of the Pediatric Dentistry Department. Dr. Mansoor is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor in, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston, and NYU College of Dentistry in New York.