It’s often overlooked, but a person’s oral health can sometimes be an indicator of their overall wellbeing. Therefore, inculcating good dental health practices from early can play a significant role in staving off certain diseases.
This view was expressed as the Ministry of Health and Wellness, in association with the Massy Foundation, launched a Dental Health Promotion Intervention on Monday, targeting third-form students at the 22 Government-owned secondary schools in Barbados.
“Oral health is a window into a person’s overall health. Therefore, taking care of one’s mouth, teeth and gums may protect you against certain medical conditions; but neglecting it, especially if gum disease is present, may increase your risk of serious health problems like heart attacks, strokes and diabetes,” said Director of the Massy Foundation, Lennox Prescod.
Minister of Health and Wellness Jeffrey Bostic said the Government had started oral health care programmes in schools after surveys conducted by the Ministry’s Dental Health Services Department in 1995, 2001 and 2011, revealed a deterioration in children’s dental health.
However, these programmes only address primary school students, so the Massy Foundation saw the need to take it to the secondary level.
“The teen years usually represent a higher risk stage for increased sugar intake, along with experimentation with certain social behaviours which can have an impact on their health,” Prescod explained.
The programme, which was two years in the making, is expected to reach 4,000 students over the next two years.
The Massy Foundation invested just under $23,000 in the initiative. At Monday’s launch, they presented the Dental Health Services Department with oral care kits courtesy of Colgate, which the dental health officers will use as they reinforce the importance of good oral hygiene. (DH)