The SOS Children’s Villages, Ghana in collaboration with Colgate-Palmolive Company Limited on Wednesday commemorated the World Oral Health Day in Accra with over 2,000 basic school children in attendance in Accra.
The commemoration which was held at the La Wireless Cluster of Schools entailed a free dental screening for the children, and demonstration by health practitioners on ways to maintain oral hygiene and brush the teeth well.
Colgate tooth paste and brushes were distributed to the children, as well as manuals on how to maintain personal and environmental hygiene to the participating schools.
The commemoration on the theme, “Say Ahh!! Act on Mouth Health”, offered health practitioners the platform to teach the children songs composed on how to brush their teeth well with quality toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste such as “Colgate”.
Mr Alexander Mar Kekula, the National Director of SOS Children’s Villages, Ghana, said millions of people around the globe continued to suffer from poor oral health that went beyond the mouth, taking a serious toll on individual’s overall health and well-being.
The burden of oral health diseases in Ghana, he said, remained one of the major national public health challenges, a situation he said could be linked to problems like lack of policy guidelines, budget allocation, dental personal and oral health education and awareness creation activities.
“The theme for the celebration is to motivate individuals to take charge of their own oral health by taking specific action to prevent oral disease and safeguard their overall heath,” he said.
Mr Kekula noted that recognising the poor oral health situation among children in the country, the Children’s Village launched an oral health project in 2013 in partnership with Wrigley-Sweden to help children develop good oral care habits through education, demonstration and free distribution of brushing and learning materials.
Madam Bernice Aduo-Addae, the La Dadekotopon Municipal Health Director of the Ghana Education Service (GES) said the GES collaborated with the Village because it had the welfare of children at heart and commemoration of the Day was the first of its kind in the Municipality.
The focus of the commemoration, she said, was to instil in the children the habit of brushing their teeth twice daily and generally maintaining oral hygiene.
Quoting the World Health Organisation, she said: “Oral health is the state of being free from chronic mouth and facial pain, oral and throat cancer, oral infection and sores, periodontal (gum) disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and other diseases and disorders that limit an individual’s capacity in biting, chewing, smiling, speaking, and psychosocial wellbeing”.
Among the activities that affect the teeth, she said, were excessive sugar consumption, smoking and drinking and therefore advised children to refrain from consuming sugary foods especially candies.
“Maintenance of good oral hygiene is one of the most important aspects of health since many things that enter the stomach passes through the mouth, therefore the mouth must be free from bacteria,” she said.
“The teeth help a lot in our lives and sometimes people judge us from the breath that comes out when we talk, so we should endeavor to keep our mouths clean all the time”.
Mr Emmanuel Amissah Cobinnah, a Dental Surgeon at the 37 Military Hospital and the Guest of Honour for the commemoration, said there were different levels of responsibility in keeping oral hygiene with the first focusing on the individual responsibility to keep his or her mouth clean.
The second, he said, was the responsibility of health professionals to undertake intensive sensitisation programmes to educate the public on the need to maintain good oral hygiene.
He advised government to implement a national oral health policy to ensure that all health facilities across the country established dental facilities to cater for the citizenry, adding that it would reduce the inaccessibility of dental health care especially for those in the remote areas.