Dentists' group says 7 of 10 Filipinos have tooth decay

By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

February 21, 2024, 5:50 pm

<p>Tooth decay <em>(Photo courtesy of Department of Health)</em></p>

Tooth decay (Photo courtesy of Department of Health)

MANILA – Seven out of 10 Filipinos, or 72 percent of the population, have dental caries or tooth decay, the Philippine Dental Association (PDA) said on Wednesday.

“Bulk of these statistics are five to 12 years old, meaning the school children of the Philippines. It has become the leading reason why children are absent from school,” PDA executive secretary Sheryl Lantican said in a media Kapihan forum.

“Based on my professional experience, madaming workers, employees also na di makakapasok sa trabaho (many workers, employees also who cannot go to work), only because they are experiencing toothache.”

While caries seems unimportant to many Filipinos, Lantican said it is now considered a disease locally and globally.

She said sugar and neglect of dental hygiene cause tooth decay and periodontal disease.

Tooth decay happens when bacteria caused by sugar mixes with acid in the mouth, resulting in the deterioration of the hard parts of teeth.

Meanwhile, about 50 percent or five out of 10 Filipinos suffer from various gum or periodontal diseases.

These are advanced conditions which affect not only the gums but also the bones under the gums.

Department of Health Maternal Child and Adolescent Health Division chief Manuel Vallesteros said dental and oral problems are highly preventable.

“We always think that dentistry is expensive, but it is dental neglect that is expensive. That’s why we need to strengthen dental home or oral health primary care,” Vallesteros said.

He said oral health which includes the teeth, gums, lips, jaws and salivary glands must be given importance by every Filipino.

Vallesteros advised Filipinos to know all kinds of dental services available for them.

“Ang dental ay kasama sa universal health care kaya ang aming programa ay (Dental is included in the universal health care that’s why our program is) across all life stages starting from pregnancy to old age,” he said.

Other best practices that prevent tooth decay include avoiding sugar, observing proper toothbrushing, having regular dental checkup, and staying hydrated, he added.

“Umiwas din sa bisyo, alak, sigarilyo at vape. Iwasan ang pagnguya ng betel nut o nganga dahil ito ay maaaring magdulot ng (Avoid vices, alcohol, cigarettes and vape. Avoid chewing betel nut because this can cause) oral cancer,” Vallesteros said. (PNA)