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JIS News

Dental nurse attached to the Clarendon Health Department, Sonia Walker, is appealing to Jamaicans to practise proper oral hygiene, as dental problems often lead to other health complications.
In an interview with JIS News, Miss Walker explained that while good oral hygiene generally results in healthy teeth and a beautiful smile, it also helps to preserve the health of the heart, and prolong life.
She explained that periodontal disease, which is one of the dental issues elderly persons, in particular, are forced to contend with, sometimes leads to heart disease. This, she informed, results from bacteria travelling from the mouth, down into the heart, causing it to degenerate, over time. Periodontal disease is usually evidenced by teeth which shake and then fall out if the condition is not treated early. Unfortunately, while the condition can be treated, it is irreversible.
The most effective preventive measure, she pointed out, is proper oral hygiene, which should begin during infancy, and be practised throughout one’s lifetime. Miss Walker noted that public education is a helpful tool in this regard, as dissemination of information is critical to providing the guidance necessary for creating the right attitude among the general populace.
“It is very important to start, from very early in a person’s life, to inculcate the right sort of attitude towards oral hygiene. Once they develop good attitudes from early, this should be maintained throughout their lifetime, carrying right over into adulthood. So, while it is important for the elderly to take good care of their teeth, it is even more important that children be taught sound practices, as these will grow with them,” she emphasised.
Miss Walker said that as a result of the strong public education programme, children, particularly those living in the Corporate Area, were able to achieve a relatively small number of dental cavities. She said more would have to be done to bring the rural areas up to this level.
Chief among the actions taken by the Dental Association of Jamaica to promote good oral health, is the school dental programme, which involves visits by trained personnel to educate and provide dental services, along with competitions, which encourage the full involvement of students in various institutions across the island.