Dental surgeons give free checkups to children with mental disabilities

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Dental surgeons examine one of the children with mental disabilities at Tubiteho Centre in Kigali. Hudson Kuteesa.

Dental surgeons in the country had a busy day, yesterday, as they celebrated the World Oral Day, carrying out medical outreach to children with mental disabilities.

World Oral Health Day is observed annually on March 20, dedicated to raising global awareness of the issues around oral health and the importance of oral hygiene so that governments, health players and the general public can work together to achieve healthier mouths and happier lives.

It is organised by World Dental Federation and it involves campaigns by national dental associations from around the world with activities in over 130 countries.

In Rwanda, dentists organised under the Rwanda Dental Surgeons Association held their celebrations at two centres for children with mental disabilities; Tubiteho Centre in Kimironko, and Inshuti Zacu Centre in Gahanga Distrtict, where they extended free oral checkups, tooth brushes as well as sensitisation to the children about how well they can handle their oral health.

Speaking to journalists, Adelaide Muhigana, president of the Rwanda Dental Surgeons Association, said they found that children with mental disabilities are among the people at a high risk of being affected by oral health problems.

“We, therefore, decided to come to their centres to help them teach them the way they should maintain hygiene, as well as teaching their caretakers how to do this work so that these children can have good oral health,” Muhigana said.

She observed that many people don’t value oral health, a fact she said has made oral diseases more and more rampant among the population.

Muhigana called on the public to focus on prevention, especially in form of regular consultation with dentists.

“If you go for consultation once a year it is good and if you do it twice, the better. People should at least visit the dentist for a checkup at least once a year. You don’t have to wait until you have a sleepless night before you can go to a dentist. Regular consultation saves you from losing a lot of money that would later go into treatment when oral situation gets worse,” she said.

At Tubiteho Centre, the dentists handled 24 cases and in Gahanga, 38.

Ezekiel Niyonsenga, a dental therapy student from University of Rwanda’s College of Medicine and Health Sciences, School of Dentistry, was one of the medics who took part in the outreach.

He said the services they provided to the children were important to show them that they are cared for.

“It is good to show them that they are really cared for and that their oral health is in our concern. It portrays to them that they are valued and that they are not left behind,” Niyonsenga said.

Gasana Ndoba, a parent of one of the children and the president of Tubiteho, an NGO, expressed gratitude for the outreach, saying it not only taught the children but their caretakers and parents too.

“We always give children general health lessons but due to the fact that our teachers are not oral health experts, we are not always able to exploit oral health in depth. I am happy that today we have been able to get more information,” he said.

“What the children have learnt they will go and share with their parents.”

Statistics from the World Dental Federation indicate that 90 per cent of the total world population would suffer from oral disease during their lifetime many of which are avoidable.

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