Oral health: Forget the fizz, says Limpopo dentist

A Limpopo dentist offers free oral health screening services as the country marks National Oral Health Awareness Month in September – and urged people to avoid carbonated and sugary drinks which are the main culprits of tooth decay.

According to World Health Organization, more than 3.5 billion people are affected by oral diseases. This alarming statistic prompted a dentist in Louis Trichardt not only to provide free screening, but also hopes to raise awareness about the importance of taking care of your oral health.

Dr Phumudzo Machaka said there was not enough information on oral health; leading to problems like tooth decay, gum disease, oral cancer and tooth loss. If they are spotted early enough, they can be avoided.

Untreated tooth decay (cavities) of permanent teeth is the most common health problem according to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Severe periodontal (gum) disease, which can lead to tooth loss, is also very common, with nearly 10% of the world’s population affected. It is further estimated that more than 530 million children suffer from dental caries of the primary teeth (deciduous teeth).

Give up the sparkling now

Talk to Health-e news, Machaka said that during his years of experience as a dentist, he discovered that the main cause of oral health problems in many people is the consumption of sugary drinks.

“One of the simple things that causes oral health problems, especially in children, is sugary drinks, because sugar is the main cause of tooth decay. It is therefore important that parents make sure their children do not consume carbonated drinks and stress the importance of drinking more water and eating more fruits and vegetables, ”Machaka said.

He added, “The problem of consuming carbonated drinks does not apply only to children, but also to the elderly. Staying away from these drinks will help protect your oral health, so it’s important to watch what we eat and drink. We must always remember that drinking water and eating fruits and vegetables is not only good for our oral health, but also for our overall health, ”said the 49-year-old.

According to Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa, most South Africans eat a diet high in processed meat, salt, sugars, fried foods, refined starches, and do not eat enough fruits and vegetables.

Prevention is better than cure

A strong proponent of prevention, Machaka said he decided to offer free oral health screening to raise awareness of the importance of oral health as he believes many people, especially in rural areas suffer from oral health problems that could have been avoided with early detection.

“Providing free oral health screening is a way to impart knowledge about the importance of oral health not only for children but for everyone, as people tend to ignore the importance of oral health. unknowingly, and only visit the dentist or doctor when they start to feel discomfort or pain in the mouth, ”Machaka said.

“I always preach to my patients that prevention is always better than cure; it is important that people always go for oral screening because some oral problems can be avoided if caught early with screening, ”he explained.

“Start them young”

Machaka said taking care of her oral health should start in toddlers and continue throughout life.

“As soon as a child begins to grow teeth, taking care of their oral health should begin immediately and should never end, even as they get older. Parents and guardians also have a duty to ensure that their children take care of their oral health by brushing their teeth all the time, which is the first step in taking care of their oral health ”, Machaka said.

Targeted disabled children

In 2019, Health-e news, reported on how Machaka set up a outreach project to visit special schools for children with disabilities to tackle their oral health issues. But since the project was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Machaka has called on parents and guardians, who care for children with disabilities, to take them for a free oral health exam in his cabinet in September.

“With our special schools project forced to take a break in Limpopo due to COVID-19, parents and guardians caring for people with disabilities are urged to come for free oral health screening . Elderly people are also welcome, ”he said. – Health-e News.

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Robert Young

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